Right now, science fact seems to be stranger than science fiction, so the chance to escape to a different world altogether with the new sci-fi games of 2021, whether that’s one in the future or one that’s completely different to our world, is an offer that’s too hard to pass up. Anything to distract us from the horrors of life for a few hours at a time, I guess.
No, I’m fine. Honest.
With the launch of the new generation of consoles, there’s been an influx in the amount of science fiction games to look forward to over the next 12 months and beyond. If you’re a fan of space-faring adventures, killing massive robots or something in between, you should find something that tickles your fancy in this list. Here are the biggest new sci-fi games of 2021 and beyond.
The Biggest Upcoming Sci-Fi Games of 2021
Everspace 2 | January 18th, 2021 (Early Access)
Developer: Rockfish Games Publisher: Rockfish Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One (new gen versions likely)
Space. It seems to go on and on forever, but then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you. At least, that’s how space was explained in the first episode of Futurama, and that’s the theory I’d like to subscribe to. Everspace 2, from Rockfish Games, probably doesn’t have a giant gorilla in it, but it does feature fast-paced space dogfights.
A single-player RPG with way more in the way of story and characters in comparison to the first game, you’ll explore the galaxy, gun down lots of different vessels and try to obtain some special loot in order to upgrade your personal craft. If you like to pretend you’re piloting an X-Wing when you daydream, this should be for you.
Outriders | April 1st, 2021
Developer: People Can Fly Publisher: Square Enix Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S
There’s perhaps no sci-fi concept more enduring than “man goes to an alien planet, murders everything in sight”. It’s pretty much how we treated this planet as we were discovering new continents, so why would we stop when we reach new planets? This same concept is the backbone for Outriders, only with the added wrinkle of superpowers to boot.
Created by People Can Fly, who have made their name by making sci-fi shooters like Gears of War: Judgment and Bulletstorm which are fantastic, Outriders has the potential to be the breakout co-op shooter of 2021. With a variety of classes and weapons to equip, you might be playing this one for a while.
Outriders is one of those “rough-around-the-edges” games that’s brilliant in its core, but is dulled around the edges by some less than stellar elements. In this case, it’s the weak story and issues with the launch build of the game. While the story can’t exactly be patched, some additional work and updates to the game should help Outriders to truly shine.
Returnal | April 30th, 2021
Developer: Housemarque Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platform(s): PS5
Housemarque seems to have a bit of a thing for bombastic shoot ‘em ups, and that shows no sign of stopping with Returnal coming to the PS5 later this year. While the gameplay looks like it bears many of the hallmarks of a classic Housemarque title, it’s clear that the PS5 game is their most ambitious project to date.
A third-person shooter with roguelike elements, you control a space pilot by the name of Selene who’s stuck on a hostile alien planet, in a time loop that changes every single time Selene dies. I guess that’s one way of explaining the roguelike elements of the game, though Returnal might have a job competing with people who are still playing Hades by that point.
Biomutant | May 25th, 2021
Developer: Experiment 101 Publisher: THQ Nordic Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One (new gen versions likely)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Biomutant had died, considering the fact that it’s barely been mentioned at all since being announced, but worry not friends. Biomutant happened, it was just operating on the “it’ll launch when it’s ready” release window.
Playing as a Biomutant, you’ll be able to create your own heavily armed or highly skilled animal complete with a variety of mutant abilities. The combat system is meant to be robust, allowing for a variety of different play styles depending on how you choose to upgrade your killer little bundle of fluff.
There’s an audience that will absolutely adore Biomutant. Hell, people loved Alpha Protocol for some reason. I personally don’t know why, but those same people will likely love Biomutant’s special kind of ambitious jank. Truth be told, I do admire Biomutant and specifically Experiment 101 for tackling a project of this scale, and doing so with a commitment to stay as a small team without crunching developers. Fair play to you, but unfortunately, Biomutant still feels like it’s been spread thin.
Scarlet Nexus | June 24th, 2021
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S
The future doesn’t have to be all flying cars, spaceships and laser blasters. There’s plenty of sci-fi properties that offer a retro futuristic feel, with the Fallout series perhaps being the most prominent example. Bandai Namco have now emerged to offer their own retro future take with Scarlet Nexus, which combines 90s Japanese architecture with interdimensional monsters.
Given the genre title of “Brain Punk”, Scarlet Nexus takes place in an alternate universe where humanity’s technological evolution is tied to how we use our brains, granting humans superpowers and a host of other benefits. Unfortunately, this also comes with said monsters, known as the Others, raining down on the world to cause trouble. It’s on you to stop them.
While Scarlet Nexus’ reach might exceed its grasp in several spots, namely the complexity of its combat and the extraneous social bond mechanic, it still has a lot that works. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it isn’t trying to be — Scarlet Nexus wants to be what it is: an ambitious sci-fi epic (and upcoming anime) full of skull-jangling action and hugely complex concepts. It wants to be big, bold, and unwieldy, and on those terms, it succeeds.
Deathloop | September 14th, 2021
Developer: Arkane Publisher: Bethesda Platform(s): PS5 (timed console exclusive), PC
Ah, yes, the Microsoft-owned PlayStation exclusive. Contracts are weird, huh? Anyway, Arkane have become synonymous with first-person experiences that do things a little differently, Prey and Dishonored being prime examples of that. Now, they’re looking to bring their special touch to Deathloop, which could be the best game on PS5 in 2021.
You play as Colt, a man stuck in a time-loop on a private island. Said private island is currently inhabited by some rich party-goers who are seemingly intent on having a party and murdering the hell out of Colt. It’s up to you to kill them all, while also avoiding the assassin Julianna, who’s been hired to kill you. Also, Julianna can be another player trying to stop you, just in case your life wasn’t already stressful enough.
Sable | September 23rd, 2021
Developer: Shedworks Publisher: Raw Fury Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S
Not all sci-fi games have to feature massive guns, space lasers and the option to shoot everyone you come into contact with. Sable is the proof of that, as it’s a relaxing exploration game that sees you take control of the titular character as she makes her way out into the vast desert to complete a rite of passage.
With your own personal hoverbike that you’re free to upgrade and customise, you can explore the deserts at your own pace, discovering the remnants of lost civilisations and derelict spaceships that are strewn across the landscape. Considering that it’s being published by a team called Raw Fury, Sable seems like it’ll be quite chill.
Guardians of the Galaxy | October 26th, 2021
Developer:Eidos-Montréal Publisher: Square Enix Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, Switch
After the debacle that was Marvel’s Avengers, the idea of a new, third person action adventure Marvel game from Square Enix didn’t sound too great. However, Guardians of the Galaxy from Eidos-Montréal sounds it could get everything right that the Avengers game didn’t.
A single-player game instead of a live service co-op game, GotG makes a bold decision: you’ll play as Star-Lord instead of the entire Guardians team, leading the group of outlaws into battle against an enemy that threatens the entire galaxy. You’ll be able to command the rest of the team, controlling which abilities they use, and there’s even some dialogue options which can lead to different outcomes. This could be a real winner.
Halo Infinite | Holiday 2021
Developer: 343 Industries Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): Xbox One (maybe), Xbox Series X | S, PC
It might not have had the best gameplay reveal that the gaming industry has ever seen, but Halo Infinite is still top of the list for most gamers when it comes to their most anticipated sci-fi games of 2021 and beyond. Even if Halo 5 wasn’t the most well received game, the Halo series has still cultivated a level of brand loyalty and awareness that makes each new release worth checking out.
Plonking players back in the well-worn MJOLNIR armour of the Master Chief (and hopefully not Spartan Locke in a MGS 2-esque bait and switch), you’ll be exploring a Halo ring with some new free roam like elements, if certain visual clues from the gameplay reveal are to be believed anyway. Sidenote: that new grappling hook looks like a tonne of fun. The multiplayer looks fantastic too.
Chorus | TBC 2021
Developer: Fishlabs Publisher: Deep Silver Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, Stadia
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chorus is actually spelt Chorvs after looking at the game’s poster, but apparently that’s just a stylistic choice. It’s a choice I don’t get, and have been confused by ever since Chvches rocked up on the music scene, but there you go. God, I must sound like an old man.
Anyway, Chorus sees you playing as Nara, who’s on a personal quest to murder a dark cult that made her the ace pilot she is. To do so, you’ll be utilising the sentient spaceship Forsaken, engaging in zero-g dogfights and exploring a dark universe filled with secrets and horrors. This could be a real sleeper hit for 2021.
Horizon: Forbidden West | TBC 2021
Developer: Guerilla Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Games Platform(s): PS4, PS5
Another PlayStation exclusive for this list, Horizon: Forbidden West is the sequel to 2017’s Zero Dawn, which sees protagonist Aloy going west to find that life is not peaceful there. Turns out it’s called Forbidden West for a reason, as there are just as many giant killer robots roaming around the landscape, looking to oil their gears with your blood.
Okay, that description might have been a bit too graphic for the type of game that Horizon: Forbidden West is, but that’s besides the point. Not much else is known about Forbidden West right now, aside from the debut announcement trailer, but it’s scheduled to be released at some point this year.
Starfield | November 11th, 2022
Developer: Bethesda Publisher: Bethesda Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X | S
Fulfilling the “& Beyond” portion of this list in a big way, Bethesda’s Starfield is only expected to arrive in 2022 at the very earliest, and even that’s optimistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Starfield ended up launching on the Xbox Series X-2 or whatever the next iteration of the console ends up being. Face it, you know there’s going to be another one.
A single-player RPG that’s been confirmed to have no multiplayer component planned, not much else is known about Starfield, other than it’ll be a galaxy trotting adventure. Given the fact that it’s a Bethesda game, don’t be surprised if this one ends up being a bit buggy on launch. They always are.
Pragmata | TBC 2022
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Platform(s): PS5, Xbox Series X | S
Okay, so here’s where I throw it out to the crowd to tell me what the hell this one is about. I’ve seen the trailer Pragmata and read the PR blurbs, and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. There’s a human colony on the moon, a little girl to protect and a guy in an astronaut suit. Apparently all these pieces add up to a profound story, but I’m not seeing it yet.
In fairness, Pragmata is only scheduled to launch in 2022, so we have at least 12 months (probably longer) for Capcom to slowly drip feed gameplay footage and information about their new IP. To be honest, this one could be a real winner, but we’re going to have to wait to find out, though colour me intrigued at least.
Overwatch 2 | TBC 2022 (most likely)
Developer: Blizzard Publisher: Blizzard Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S
Between the advanced talking monkey, a race of sentient robots and a guy with a giant rocket powered arm, Overwatch is about as sci-fi as it gets, but the first game never really got to explore the potential of its world and characters as a multiplayer shooter. All that exposition has been saved for lore dumps and books, though that could all change with Overwatch 2.
While still primarily a multiplayer shooter, which will include a brand new game type and several new characters, the big addition for Overwatch 2 is a co-op story campaign that’ll see players take on the role of various characters. Overwatch has dabbled with PvE content before, but Overwatch 2 is being built from the ground up to offer a more refreshing experience.
Star Citizen | TBC (Alpha available now)
Developer: Cloud Imperium Games Publisher: Cloud Imperium Games Platform(s): PC
It’s felt like Star Citizen has been around since the dawn of time. “In the beginning, there was Star Citizen being backed on Kickstarter.” Developed by Cloud Imperium Games, Star Citizen is technically playable now via an alpha build, but a full release of the game still appears to be years off.
An ambitious space simulator, Star Citizen including aspects of ship customisation, boots on the ground gun fights and aerial/space dogfighting, all wrapped up in a persistent world where players create avatars, accept missions and so on. It’s been in development for a decade already, and there’s no sign of a release any time soon, so expect this to be another “& Beyond” entry.
Perfect Dark | TBC
Developer: The Initiative Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X | S
The Perfect Dark series served as a brilliant answer to the question of “what if James Bond was straight up sci-fi?” Bond has dabbled with sci-fi in the past, with Moonraker, Die Another Day’s Hammer of Dawn-esque space laser and the various doomsday devices that different villains have wielded throughout the franchise. Perfect Dark is a whole other level, and the upcoming reboot will hopefully retain that.
Playing as Joanna Dark, Perfect Dark games in the past see you infiltrating various bases and facilities with a variety of high-end gadgets and weapons. While no details have been confirmed about the upcoming reboot aside from the cinematic announcement trailer, we expect more of the same to be true in The Initiative’s version.
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