I thought 2020 was bad, geez was 2021 kicking it up a notch. In a year full of ups and epic downs, we all survived and made it through the pain in our own ways, but most of us gamers self-medicated with video games. Studios and developers have been working hard to get titles out to the consumers and while some have been disastrous launches others have been surprised successes and instant home runs that made this year just slightly more bearable.
So in saying that, it’s that time of the year again; the annual MKAU’s ‘Games of the Year’ article. What games did we rave about to our peers and what games did we put back on the shelf to be forgotten?
So being an investigative journalist, or general pain in the ass as my colleagues see it, I harassed the team at MKAU to find out their feelings, grievances, and accolades of gaming in 2021. This is what our reviewers; Fletcher, James, Shane, Brashy, Sammy, Bigfoot, and Senior Reviewer and Editors; Matty and myself had to say. Categories are as follows, feel free to tell us your own favourites in the comments below or on our social medias:
- Stacy- Chivalry 2
Developed by Torn Banner Studios, this was so much fun with friends as you chopped limbs off or threw a chicken at someone’s face. Whether it be one on one or against a horde of people, medieval combat has never been so cool.
- Matty – Clid The Snail
It was a beautifully designed world with interesting choices when it comes to the characters.
- Fletcher – Death’s door
It’s the right kind of weird with an awesome art style to boot. The fact that you play as a crow that wields a sword is just icing on the cake.
- James – 12 Minutes
With a voice cast consisting of James McAvoy, Daisey Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, and making a fan out of Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, 12 Minutes is a game about a husband who is experiencing a 12 minute time loop of a police officer accusing his wife of murdering her father. Find clues, and watch as the 12 minutes repeats, diving darker into the story… It’s dark, gritty, and highly addictive!
- Shane – Splitgate for Xbox
Splitgate came out of nowhere and offered a competitive and fun mix for multiplayer with its mixture of run and gun and portals.
- Brashy – Kena: Bridge of Spirits
This was going to be my game of the year, and kinda still is, this game is breathtaking. Ember Lab struck gold for their first game endeavour.
- Sammy – Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Probably the best-looking indie game to date. It’s hard to believe it’s even an indie game at all with its gorgeous visuals, presentation, and charming aesthetics.
- Bigfoot – Valheim
The Viking survival game that took the world by storm with its brutal boss fights and amazing base building.
- Stacy – Resident Evil: Village
Geez, I hate horror games but I ate this one up. It was so gorgeous designed, atmospheric, and had just the right amount of scares and combat.
- Fletcher – Resident Evil: Village
I’m not a huge fan of Horror games or Resident Evil but it’s undeniably one of the best games from this year. Lady Dimitrescu made an army of simps and the memes alone were enough to make me play it.
- James – Resident Evil: Village
After the hit and miss of Resident Evil: Biohazard, the RE team returns with an absolute masterpiece! All the classic RE features, thrills, and gore return for its most impressive entry into the series to date!
- Shane – Resident Evil: Village
RE8 was a top contender for me this year. It did have the moments that lacked traditional horror but I think we can all agree the dollhouse first time round was a big nope.
- Brashy – Resident Evil: Village
Resident Evil 8, I mean it’s zombies now with werewolves and vampires, big step on me vampires.
- Sammy – Resident Evil Village
The series that helped define the horror genre has done it again. The incredible depth of gameplay, presentation, story, in-your-face moments, and above all the instantly iconic characters helps the latest Resident Evil cement its place in Capcom’s legacy.
- Stacy – Halo Infinite
Halo feels like Halo again. While I am about to start the campaign, the multiplayer has me hooked with its seamless shooting and range of weapons we all know and love.
- Matty – Clid The Snail
Aside from wasting countless hours in ARMA 3, Clid the Snail was quite the surprise, particularly seeing as it’s a twin-stick shooter. It played really well and was quite challenging.
- Fletcher – Halo Infinite
Full disclosure, I’m a Halo fanboy but Halo absolutely blew the socks off of CoD, Battlefield, and Far Cry 6 even before the campaign dropped. The biggest issue was a lackluster battle pass system, but even that got patched before the full launch.
- James – Far Cry 6
Having met a similar fate to that of Resident Evil (with its hit and miss sequels/spinoffs), Far Cry returns with a thrill-ride, action-packed shooter that was well worth the wait! Intense, deep story mixed with amazing visuals and over-the-top action – welcome back, Far Cry!
- Shane – Back 4 Blood
The gunplay and designs were spot on plus really enjoyed what mods you could mix and match.
- Brashy – Guardians Of The Galaxy
I didn’t play a lot of shooters, so Guardians of the Galaxy will have to take it. It was a hugely enjoyable game and I was a little sceptical but it was a solid game with lots of replayability.
- Sammy – Returnal
The dark, mysterious, and eerie atmosphere really helps create that unnerving feeling of isolation in uncharted territory. The bizarre and mysterious story will keep players engaged to find out what happens next and learn more about Selene’s tragic past.
- Bigfoot – Bright Memory: Infinite
Now, this is a hard one, I’m a massive FPS fanboy, anything with guns I’m interested in, I love all shooters from arcadey shooters to mil-sims, but all of the AAA releases seemed to fall flat, promised the world but left a whole tonne to be desired. But in all honesty Bright Memory: Infinite was one of my favourites for 2021, the stunning visuals peered with the super-fast gun/gameplay made shooting the ancient dangers even more satisfying.
- Stacy – Forza Horizon 5
While the matchmaking is a bit ganky, once you are all together, the races are a barrel of laughs and the environments and challenges are loads of fun.
- Fletcher – It Takes Two
This was a tough one, normally I would have leaned towards a big online multiplayer experience with a more the merrier mindset. This game is an old-school co-op and was so much fun to play a dedicated multiplayer campaign.
- Shane – Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite hands down, was a late drop but has a massive online community and is my game of choice at this time.
- Brashy – Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker
A Final Fantasy game will always be somewhere on my list. This game is the greatest MMO out right now.
- Sammy – Monster Hunter Rise
Without a doubt Capcom’s absolute best online multiplayer game that always evolves with every entry in the series. Players can team up with friends or random players to take down various large monsters for materials to upgrade their armour and weapons before taking on even bigger colossal beasts.
- Bigfoot – Splitgate on Xbox
The superfast-paced halo/portal love child that is free-to-play and has almost every style of game type, and if you can’t find one you can make a custom game mode with any modifiers you want! A great game to play with friends!
- Stacy – Valheim
While I didn’t play this myself technically (Shoutout to my girl, streamer @Kat81_), I did watch a load of people and I was blown away by its Norse beauty and depth of gameplay. The boss battles were amazing to spectate as well.
- Matty – Weird West
I only played the preview version (it releases in Jan 2022), but Weird West has my vote here due to how unique it is, mixing fantasy and the Wild West in a twin-stick shooter RPG.
- Fletcher – Tales of Arise
I have always wanted to throw myself into a JRPG but few lack the polish to hold my attention. Tales of Arise addressed every concern I had and was a visual epic, the main theme is an absolute banger by the way.
- James – Biomutant
A sleeper hit for the RPG genre in 2021, Biomutant took the RPG genre and made it feel… new? Stellar graphics, a different approach to combat mixed in with a rich story and RPG-based traveling, scouting, and exploring makes it a KO for RPGs in 2021.
- Shane – Monster Hunter Rise
I already know the New World is going to take this officially but I had more fun in MHR than I did with New World.
- Brashy – Ruined King: A League of Legends Story
This was the only saving grace to the slightly disappointing Ruination/Sentinels of Light Arches.
- Sammy – Life is Strange True Colors
The series where even the small choices we make can greatly impact the future. Alex’s unique empath powers allow her to really feel and see deep into anyone’s feelings, taking players on an emotional rollercoaster of a role-playing game.
- Bigfoot – Chernobylite
This was one of the most intriguing RPGs I played all year with mixes of supernatural, horror, survival, and colony simulation. Chernobylite had me hooked for hours.
- Stacy – Diablo 2: Resurrected
Diablo 3 will always have my heart and maybe a small chunk of my soul but it was fabulous to see Blizzard bring back a classic with the love and respect it deserved. Plus, the cutscenes are mint.
- Fletcher – Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Mass Effect is definitely a game I enjoyed remembering more than I enjoyed playing it, the original specifically. With a bunch of gameplay improvements and a fresh coat of paint, the gameplay and my memories are way more in line.
- James – Oddworld: Soulstorm
After their smash remake of the initial Oddworld, “New n Tasty”, Oddworld Inhabitants return with Oddworld: Soulstorm. Arguably one of the best remakes to the original PS1 gaming franchise, hands down. Top to bottom, graphics to sound, an untouchable entry in the remake-genre world of gaming.
- Shane – Diablo 2:Resurrected
Diablo 2 had always held a place in my heart from my youth and the remaster brought that back plus it was fun to play with Stace.
- Brashy – Alan Wake Remastered
Alan Wake Remastered was hands down this year’s top Remaster/Remake for me especially with the announcement of a new Alan Wake and the tie-ins with Control. I can’t wait to see where the story will go.
- Sammy – Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
For the past 25 years, the Pokémon series has been and continues to be one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. This modern take on the classic DS games from 2006 allows longtime fans to revisit one of their favourite adventures and even bring in new players to the legendary series.
- Bigfoot – Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
As a lover of the Pokemon series, Diamond/Pearl was one of my favourite additions to the franchise back in the day, before the series turned uh “interesting”. BDSP is a stunning remake of an amazing classic with new challenges and updated areas reliving one of the best games in the franchise but now it’s betterer.
- Stacy – Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
She is the woman I aspire to be….She just demands audience presence the moment she is on screen, supported by such a rich backstory and talented voice actress. She’s so hot too.
- Matty – Clid (Clid The Snail)
This is a hard one because I really didn’t play too many games this year. Clid the Snail probably stands out the most, purely because I wouldn’t expect a snail to be such a grumpy and offensive character.
- Fletcher – Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
First of all, I think we all had a little moment when we first met Lady Dimitrescu and there is nothing to be ashamed of wanting to be stepped on a little bit. Memes aside, she was genuinely a fully realised character with outstanding voice acting and dominating on-screen presence.
- James – Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
Standing at 9 feet, 6 inches tall, Miss Dimitrescu proves to be one of the most intimidating, alluring, and horrifying villains to ever grace a gaming screen! From superstardom reaching meme status, this character will be remembered up alongside Solid Snake and Link as one of the most memorable characters of both this year and of all time!
- Shane – Karl Heisenberg (Resident Evil: Village)
He was such an interesting character his motives in the story gave more depth and drive than others in the title.
- Brashy – Steph Gingrich (Life is Strange: True Colors)
Is my favourite character and has beaten all other characters I have liked over the years, close second would be Kena.
- Sammy – Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
The big, tall, and imposing figure with looks that kill (literally). In just a single game, the Lady of Castle Dimitrescu has already become an icon of gaming and pop culture inspiring various fan art, cosplays, and more, and will be one of the most memorable gaming villains in history.
- Bigfoot – Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
… For uh…big reasons.
- Stacy – Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life
How can you not love Captain Jack Sparrow and Rare are geniuses for finally giving him his own take in Sea of Thieves. I loved every twist and turn he sent us on while swashbuckling on the open seas.
- Matty – The Outer Worlds: Murder on Eridanos
I think the only DLC I played for anything this year was Murder on Eridanos for The Outer Worlds. It was a quirky LA Noir style story that introduced some interesting details about the corporations in the Halcyon System.
- Fletcher – The Outer Worlds: Murder on Eridanos
The Outer Worlds is an underrated game in general and this Murder mystery DLC is one of the best releases this year that went unnoticed. I hope the Outer Worlds 2 makes more of these missions when it eventually drops.
- James – Super Smash Brothers Ultimate: Sora
The team at SSBU pulled off the impossible – getting Disney to allow the rights for Kingdom Hearts protagonist Sora to finally be included in SSBU. A character we all wished for, voted for, and argued over finally arrived and the last ever DLC content for the last ever SSB game. A perfect end to a perfecting gaming series.
- Shane – World War Z: Aftermath
New locations and characters with new game features. It was a fun DLC to play and will warrant more plays down the line.
- Brashy – Life is Strange: Wavelengths
It’s a DLC all about Steph Gingrich. What more could I ask for, Katy Benz does a fantastic job. I even had the pleasure of chatting with her.
- Sammy – Super Smash Brothers Ultimate: Sora
It seemed there was absolutely no possible way that the most highly requested character owned by Disney and Square Enix could ever appear in Nintendo’s famous crossover brawler. At long last in 2021, Masahiro Sakurai and his team made the impossible happen by bringing in Sora from Kingdom Hearts to Super Smash Bros Ultimate, with the internet and fans around the world erupting in celebration.
- Bigfoot – Far Cry 6: Vaas Insanity
Venture into the tormented mind of one of the best villains in all of gaming history, playing as Vaas himself explore the twisted crazy depths of this tormented mind in an amazingly fun Roguelite version of Farcry.
- Stacy – New World
The game looks so boring. To me, it still looks boring and I live for RPGs. Yet, everyone and their dog was loving it and its take on an MMO RPG. Hey, maybe I’m the boring one.
- Matty – Evil Genius 2: World Domination
I suppose, for me personally, it had to have been Evil Genius 2: World Domination. I actually really enjoyed the time I spent playing it, and combining dungeon building with a very simplified Civ-type game worked surprisingly well.
- Fletcher – Valheim
This game was made by five people and is one of the most successful games of the entire year! The Norse theme fits the survival genre so well and base building is always therapeutic.
- Shane – Cloud Gaming
Honestly, for me I would say the cloud gaming from Xbox, I never expected to use it but lately have been using it often and love that it is available.
- Brashy – Arcane
The League of Legends anime, now it wasn’t so unexpected but it did exceed my expectations. Best game adaptation for a very long time.
- Sammy – Guardians of the Galaxy
Square Enix doesn’t exactly have the best reputation with superhero games with 2020’s Marvel’s Avengers. Expectations weren’t very high for 2021’s Guardians of the Galaxy, however, it became one of the biggest surprise hits of the year with its action-packed gameplay, hilarious banter between all the characters, and rocking soundtrack that perfectly fits every moment they’re played.
- Stacy – Alien Fireteam Elite
Now, while the game itself was not terribly awful, and was fun playing with Annie and Subby, it lacked so much content and was over before it even started. It needed more content, more puzzles, and definitely more end Queen fight substance. Dear god, I hope they have a DLC with just so much… more.
- Matty – Dying Light 2
I’m kind of upset that Dying Light 2 was delayed, but I’d much rather them get it running properly and with minimal issues than face another Cyberpunk.
- Fletcher – Back 4 Blood
Man, this game had some hype surrounding it, a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead seemed like a no-brainer for success. Even being free on Xbox Game Pass, no one is playing it anymore.
- James – Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy: Definitive Edition
After the constant re-releases of GTA V, and the internet crying out for GTA6, it was a very welcoming shock to see the OG trilogy (GTA 3, Vice City & San Andreas) were coming to modern-day consoles/PC – remastered! But sadly, with one of the worst gaming launches since Cyberpunk 2077, GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition suffered so poorly that fans TO THIS DAY are demanding refunds.
- Shane – RE:Verse
My biggest disappointment that comes to mind is the delay on RE:Verse, first a few months to now dropping early 2022 was a gut punch.
- Brashy – A plethora of games
Oof, there have been a few this year for me, GTA Remaster, Biomutant, Guilty Gear, and Rust Console Edition.
- Sammy – Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy: Definitive Edition
A compilation pack of three of the most iconic games that helped define a genre and legendary franchise seemed like a guaranteed win for Rockstar Games. Unfortunately, it was released with countless glitches and bugs that greatly ruin the experience and really let down longtime fans.
- Bigfoot – A plethora of games
2021 was a year of disappointments, from Outriders, New World, and Battlefield 2042 stood out to me. With such a big franchise that have had amazing games, 2042 was such a letdown, with all the hype built around it, it just fell flat with the super rough beta and launch of the game and constant buggy updates 2042 was a no-go zone for me, such a shame since I’m a huge battlefield fan..
- Stacy – Still no Xbox Series X or PS5s
I can’t believe people are still having issues getting these, worst console launches ever.
- Fletcher – Rockstar
The GTA remakes were a flop but the icing on the polished turd was that they removed the older games from the store so this was your only option left if you didn’t already own the originals.
- James – Grove Street Games creating Grand Theft Auto – The Trilogy: Definitive Edition
With horrendous bugs, glitches, and crashes (oh-my!) GTA Trilogy has suffered one of the worst gaming launches ever. After mobile-porting studio Grove Street Games was outed as the developer (and modders have found initial ‘mobile phone controller layout’ options in-game), GSG / Rockstar Games are doing their best to fix the cut artery of their failures before the game dies off completely.
- Shane – Blizzard/Activision Lawsuits
The Blizzard/Activision lawsuit is a pretty big red flag that the gaming community should never ignore.
- Brashy – Rockstar
Releasing GTA thinking it looked good and that people would think it looked amazing. If you remaster something, make it actually look good.
- Sammy – Nintendo Switch’s Expansion Pass
Nintendo players were excited when it was announced in September that the Switch Online subscription will be bringing in classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Megadrive games for an optional extra fee. While the Megadrive games play perfectly, the N64 games are almost unplayable and incomplete with all the bugs and other issues, making their original releases in the late 90s the better way to play.
- Bigfoot – GPU shortage
Not really a “move” per se but more the shortage of GPUS, and consoles around the world due to Scalpers, Crypto Miners, and everything in-between. Gamers were unable to upgrade their rigs and secure those new generation consoles and are still struggling to. I even read somewhere that a bunch of people went all The Fast and the Furious on a delivery truck and heisted a whole lot of GPUS, what a crazy world we live in.
- Stacy – RoomieOfficial
I have binged so many of his music videos on Youtube. He is such a talented singer but the commentary of the music industry, in general, is hilarious.
- Fletcher – Girlfriend reviews
Technically two influencers but Shelby and Matt have been pumping out banger after banger and have been bridging the gap between non-gamer and gamer households with hilarious results.
- James – N/A
(**Editor: Correct answer is SuBZeRO2K)
- Shane – Naysy/MKAU
Going to say, the circle I always watch is the MKAU Fam. I also like to recommend Naysy as I am looking at making the jump into VR. She has given great advice and connects with her community with chat and song requests for Beat Sabre.
- Brashy -Quarter Jade/Masayoshi/Starmitten
Man, so many of our whole crew have been smashing it. But the most entertaining for me this year would be Quarter Jade and Masayoshi, special mention to Starsmitten as well.
- Sammy – Maximilian_DOOD (#freemvc2)
Can easily be described as an ambassador of the fighting game community and games in general. With his vast inside knowledge, connections within the industry, and above all his highly entertaining personality, Maximilian_DOOD and the YoVideogames crew have created many fun and hilarious moments with memorable quotes live on stream, that can easily be found in various highlight videos on YouTube.
- Stacy – Resident Evil: Village
This is probably the biggest shock to my community all year. Stacy loved a horror game, WTF!? Mind you, apparently, it was tame compared to other Resident Evil games but the artwork was beautiful and the characters fully fleshed out. It was incredibly well done.
- Matty – Farming Simulator 2022
As sad as this may sound, of the new games I’ve played, I’ve actually enjoyed Farming Simulator 2022 the most, and I think that’s because of how addictive it is without you even realising it. There’s no end to it. You always want the bigger and better equipment, or to try out new crops. It just keeps.
- Fletcher – Halo Infinite
The Masterchief is back, baby! Halo’s multiplayer is dominating, the Campaign is in the best place it has been since Bungie was in charge and an entire generation of new Halo players are praising the game like they are lifelong fans.
- James – Resident Evil: Village
With its seemingly cult-classic status gained overnight, RE: Village has dominated this year of gaming. From memes to cosplay, from unique gameplay to award-winning domination, RE: Village is the game of 2021
- Shane – Resident Evil: Village
Overall personally, I am going to say Resident Evil Village it by far was my most played game this year, and when the DLC drops it will be my game of choice again.
- Brashy – Life is Strange: True Colours
I was not a huge fan of the episodic style but with the release of the full game no episodes with an amazing story, characters, visuals, and music, hands down my favourite game of the year.
- Sammy – Guilty Gear -Strive
From the very moment it was revealed at EVO 2019, Guilty Gear fans were instantly hyped for the latest action-packed brawler by Arc System Works. With its beginner-friendly and deep combat system, diverse characters new and old, rollback netcode for smooth online play, and banging soundtrack that includes singers Naoki Hashimoto from Outrage and AISHA, Guilty Gear Strive has already become one of the biggest and most competitive eSports fighting games.
- Bigfoot – Inscryption
With so many amazing games coming out and to be honest, we had a metric F***-Tonne this is one of the hardest categories to pick, but Inscryption was a standout game for me, beautiful art, tactical card plays, DnD style adventures, and escape room puzzles. I played this game over and over again.
MKAU Gaming would also like to thank all the developers, publishers, fans, and our amazing community members for all the love, support, and amazing opportunities you have provided us this crazy year as content creators and media. We wish you all a happy holiday and a prosperous, merry, and safe new year! -MKAU KREW