2021: The PlayStation ultimate review

Discover the games, characters, memories and moments that defined 2021 on PlayStation.

Outstanding newcomers

The embattled duo you rooted for, the wise-cracking tough guy you got to know or the lost astronaut you tried to rescue - who was your favourite new face this year?

Selene Vassos | Returnal

Trapped in a perilous time-loop, deep space Astra scout Selene faced her own complex history in action-driven roguelike Returnal. Taking full advantage of the PS5 console's unique hardware features, Housemarque delivered one of the year's most intense and immersive gaming experiences.

Colt Vahn | DEATHLOOP

Beleaguered assassin Colt found himself sequestered to a single recurring day on the island of Blackreef in acclaimed developer Arkane Lyon's time loop-driven first-person adventure. Find a way to break the cycle, outwit your sworn nemesis Julianna and pull off the most ambitious series of assassinations ever.

Kena | Kena: Bridge of Spirits

An action adventure with music inspired by Balinese culture, Kena: Bridge of Spirits was a breakout debut hit for studio Ember Labs. Leveraging its background in visual effects, the studio delivered one of the year's most visually distinctive games and one of its most endearing characters in young spirit guide Kena.

May and Cody | It Takes Two

Back in March, Hazelight Studio returned with a dedicated multiplayer experience that combined a whole range of different mechanics and genres to deliver a truly unique adventure that forced an embattled couple to confront the complexities of their failing marriage.

New talent at PlayStation Studios

The PlayStation Studios family expanded considerably during 2021 with brand-new teams from around the world.

Housemarque

The Helsinki-based arcade veterans and long-time collaborators behind Resogun and Returnal joined the PlayStation family in June.

Housemarque

The Helsinki-based arcade veterans and long-time collaborators behind Resogun and Returnal joined the PlayStation family in June.

Bluepoint

The brilliant Austin-based studio behind the remakes of Demon's Souls and Shadow of the Colossus joined PlayStation Studios in September.

Bluepoint

The brilliant Austin-based creative minds behind the remakes of Demon's Souls and Shadow of the Colossus joined PlayStation Studios in September.

Firesprite

The UK-based studio with a history of pushing cutting edge tech and developing VR horror game The Persistence joined PlayStation Studios in September.

Firesprite

The UK-based studio with a history of pushing cutting edge tech and developing VR horror game The Persistence joined PlayStation Studios in September.

Nixxes

The Dutch studio with over two decades of game development and optimization experience joined the PlayStation family in July.

Nixxes

The Dutch studio with over two decades of game development and optimisation experience joined the PlayStation family in July.

Returning heroes

Old friends on new adventures, familiar faces with fresh new features and well-known worlds crammed with new things to do.

Ratchet and Clank | Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet and Clank returned in June with a few new friends in tow, including Rivet - a Lombax from another dimension. The brand-new, galaxy-hopping adventure leverages some of the PlayStation 5 console's most innovative features to deliver one of the year's most cutting-edge adventures.

Sam Porter Bridges | Death Stranding Director's Cut

Gaming legend Hideo Kojima's unique open-world adventure made the jump to PlayStation 5 this year, expanding Sam Porter Bridges' surreal quest across a shattered America with new tools, story content and features, alongside a swathe of technical upgrades.

Jin Sakai | Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut

The sole surviving heir of Clan Sakai returned this August in the definitive version of Sucker Punch's critically acclaimed open world action adventure, adding a range of graphical enhancements, new features and a whole new island to Jin's dramatic adventure.

Agent 47 | Hitman 3

I/O Interactive concluded their critically lauded 'World of Assassination' trilogy in January with the return of legendary contract killer Agent 47.  Hop the globe as you hunt down high-profile targets, expand your arsenal and look for ever more creative ways to dispatch your marks.

Cool new accessories

The accessory options for PS5 expanded in 2021 with a range of new colours for the revolutionary DualSense™ controller and a slick new edition of the PULSE 3D™ headset.

Midnight Black DualSense

Ignite your gaming nights with this sleek controller featuring two subtly different shades of black.

Midnight Black DualSense

Ignite your gaming nights with this sleek controller featuring two subtly different shades of black.

Cosmic Red DualSense

Explore new gaming frontiers with a vivid red design, complete with matching button details.

Cosmic Red DualSense

Explore new gaming frontiers with a vivid red design, complete with matching button details.

Black PULSE 3D Wireless Headset

Immerse yourself with an ultra-sleek all black headset, that’s been fine-tuned for 3D Audio on PS5™ consoles*.

Black PULSE 3D Wireless Headset

Immerse yourself with an ultra-sleek all black headset, that’s been fine-tuned for 3D Audio on PS5™ consoles*.

*Available when feature is supported by game.

*Available when feature is supported by game.

Unforgettable villains

They hunted you, they haunted you and they mocked you - this year's biggest villains were, in some cases, really big.

Lady Dimitrescu | Resident Evil Village

Few villains were more eye-catching or intimidating this year than Resident Evil Village's Lady Dimitrescu. A towering and terrifying vision of 1920s elegance, she stalked the halls of Castle Demitrescu wielding razor claws and a razor tongue.

Antón Castillo | Far Cry 6

Celebrated actor Giancarlo Esposito lent both his voice and likeness to the face of Yara's imposing and imperious dictator Antón Castillo in October's Far Cry 6, setting the stage for thrilling turns of corruption, espionage and revolution.

IXION | Returnal

Selene's second boss encounter on Atropos, the demonic bird-like creature IXION, was one of the game's first major trials, challenging players to draw on everything they'd learnt so far in a gruelling three-phase showdown.

Hades | Hades

Not your ordinary video game antagonist, Hades' laconic, derisive attitude towards tearaway son Zagreus in Supergiant Games' critically acclaimed rogue-like adventure was the perfect spur to your continued struggle for escape. 

Multiplayer moments

From charming co-operative adventures to gruelling team shoot outs, there have been more than enough reasons to play together this year.

Call of Duty: Vanguard

Call of Duty returned in November with an explosive single player Campaign a massive launch day Multiplayer with new and returning modes, and an exciting new Zombies experience that continues the Dark Aether storyline.

Back 4 Blood

Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock Studios set out to perfect and expand its winning formula with Back 4 Blood, which pits a group of plucky survivors against the ravenous hordes of the Ridden - a plague of mutated humanoids that have overrun the Earth. 

Battlefield 2042

In the last weeks of the year, EA launched the latest entry in the long-running Battlefield franchise, setting the large-scale multiplayer battles against a futuristic backdrop filled with cutting edge tech and devasting dynamic weather patterns.

Riders Republic

Building on the success of open world extreme sports hit Steep, Ubisoft returned in November with an expanded vision, featuring high-flying snowboards, immense downhill cycle routes and blistering wing suit challenges.

Discover the top picks of 2021 as chosen by the in-house experts at PlayStation. 

Incredible indies

2021 was a stand-out year for independent game developers, with some fantastic titles landing on PlayStation consoles.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut | ZA/UM

The critically-lauded debut release from Estonian developer ZA/UM landed on PS4 and PS5 this year and shone with its outstanding writing, sombre art direction and one-of-a-kind role-playing mechanics. A true stand-out in the medium.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale | Finji Games

Finji Games wowed with its simple but elegant color-themed adventure which handed players a magic paintbrush and asked them to right the world by bringing color back to it. A charming, creative and impressively confident debut.

Tribes of Midgard | Norsfell Games

A mixture of real-time action, survival and rogue-like elements tied together with co-op-focused play, this stylish adventure from Norsfell Games already has additional seasonal updates added to its lavish world. 

F.I.S.T. Forged in Shadow Torch | TiGames

Boasting top-tier art direction, sharp combat and a stylish '2.5D' world to explore, TiGames first release for PS5 packed quite the punch. Praised for strong level design and its dark, dieselpunk aesthetic, F.I.S.T.  comes highly recommended for fans of classic, side-scrolling adventure games.