Unfortunately, in 2021 a lot happened that I was already thinking at the end of 2020. Chip crisis, which continues to affect graphics cards and co. For PC gamers and which means that the purchase of a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series XS continues to be a major feat for consoleros. And quite apart from the Cyberpunk 2077 console debacle, which has not changed on Last Gen consoles, the game year 2021 was marked by numerous bugs. I expected the latter mainly because the switch to home office game production brought with it a lot of problems, including communication.
But the glimpse on that YouTube channel DevPlay, where developers talk about many facets of game development and thus give us consumers an exciting insight, has also made problems here clear to me. The perceived global reduction in investments in quality assurance and quality testers (QA) is only the tip of the iceberg.
Also Maurice from the Gamestar commented on the negative overall situation in the gaming industry with regard to product quality on the release day. That paints an even gloomy picture for 2022. But since this is a retrospective, I’ll take a look at my personal highlights and flops of the year 2021 with you below. Even if my personal biggest highlight is not related to gaming. We have added a cat lady to our two cat masters at home. And that worked out brilliantly.
Highlight: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart marked the first appearance of Lombax Ratchet and his robot buddy Clank on the PS5. Exclusively on the PlayStation 5. After the remake of Demon`s Souls, I finally got the real nextgen feeling in 2021! Fantastic graphics, almost no loading times and an exciting single player experience. So without any forced multiplayer or microtransactions. But with different graphic modes, such as B. Ray tracing and still 4K and fast sixty frames per second. Even if you have to make a few compromises on the graphics scale in this mode, the gameplay offered here felt like the perfect combination of performance and optics. Just great. It’s just a shame that overall there wasn’t much in 2021 that really felt like Nextgen.
Highlight: Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere for me. Introduced to the world in the summer with the first gameplay material, it looked a bit like the battle system of Mass Effect to me, only more chaotic. In addition, the characters don’t look like they do in my beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) on the big screen. And yet, after the positive reviews, user ratings and of course the Marvel license itself, I let myself be carried away to make a purchase. And let me say: I have never regretted it! It’s been a long time since I experienced such a close connection between gameplay mechanics and cinematic storytelling in a game. And here too, multiplayer modes and real money shops only shine because of their absence. Guardians of the Galaxy, like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, is a thoroughbred single player experience that scores on all levels: graphics, sound, music, story, gameplay. Incredibly well polished and far from the numerous bugged releases of the past two years. The only downer: the game didn’t sell that well. So it is all the more important to me to bang the drum again: if you can even begin with action adventures and Marvel, you HAVE to strike here. And don’t forget to visit the Museum des Collectors on Knowhere.
Sure, Halo Infinite was also a personal highlight. But one that I expected or hoped for. On the other hand, I’ve been following Chorus for a long time and hoped to experience a great game in a long-forgotten genre. I was hoping for a story-focused middle thing between Darkstar One and Everspace (2). And that’s exactly what I got. A compelling, extensive story with action-oriented gameplay. Because it is not a space simulation with demanding physics, such as B. in the case of an elite: Dangerous or a Star Citizen it wants to become. It’s perhaps more of a little sister to Squadron 42, Star Citizen’s planned story campaign. Even if the controls are not entirely uncompromising, this space flight action fills a gap that has been open for me for a long time. Or maybe it even heals a gash? Does not matter! With Nara on board the AI-conscious Forsa through various, varied locations and numerous battles, experiencing the story and upgrading your own aircraft is fun on all levels. Even if I don’t really have the control tricks for the temple sections out yet. Now Everspace 2 has to be a success in 2023 (by the way, there is already an Early Access version for Xbox in Game Pass) and maybe the space action genre will experience a renaissance if other developers want to try it out. Where is the Wing Commander license bobbing around?
Flop: something with bugs
Bugs are stupid. Probably a worse archenemy of the players worldwide than the “Orphan of Kos” from the addon for Bloodborne. Or even worse than a power failure? Although many titles have been postponed more directly to 2022 or even 2023, other titles, such as B. Vampire Masquerade Bloodlines 2, have completely disappeared from the scene. A Battlefield 2042 sets a new record for the number of issues at release. Far Cry 6 annoyed me personally with many bugs and that The Ascent seemed so terrible? Or a Diablo 2 ressurection? Simply unbearable and sad. Should I add one more? GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition: a port of the mobile version of GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas. Where a small studio with a lot of AI use has had so many automatisms adapted to the titles for current consoles that the versions can only be described as catastrophic. As gamers, we accept products from an industry that is increasingly releasing unfinished products, possibly allowing them to mature for us customers or simply copying them off completely. If these problems are supposed to be due to the pandemic, please bring the games out as Early Access titles. Then everyone knows what to expect. If you join later, you will hopefully get a bug-free version of the game. But when companies throw Activision Blizzard / Blizzard and even Rockstar something like that on the market, the problems are much bigger than expected. I have only one appeal as a solution: DON’T PREORDER! Don’t pre-order any more games, just wait and see how the games you are interested in at release fare in tests by users and magazines. If the industry does not slowly understand, due to the lack of pre-orders and the money that has already been earned, that the previous practices on the market are no longer accepted, things will happily continue. And gets worse. The fact that Blockhain and NFTs are to find their way into games everywhere as a further source of monetization does nothing better. From an outside perspective, the development focus of the big AAA developers seems to be focusing more and more on such topics instead of developing a great product first. Once that’s in place, of course, other ways of taking can be implemented. But I will not buy any skins, addons, DLCs etc. from a game that is technically not playable in and of itself. In the best case scenario, I don’t even buy it. Or not until a year later? At least if I can wait so long for a game that interests me.
Flop: availability of the new consoles
The availability of the new consoles annoys me, even if I’ve been able to call the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X my own since their release. Because many friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family members continue to fail to get a PlayStation 5 in particular. On the other hand, eBay is of course full of offers after every “drop”. At violently exorbitant prices. But they will probably be paid for. Otherwise scalpers would no longer go hunting with bots etc. The availability of hardware is generally becoming more and more difficult. Now there are no longer any “drivers”. So very simple electronic components that are built into monitors and TVs. Which is why there will also be price increases and, above all, lower availability of devices. None of this paints a pretty picture of the future of gaming. Especially for those who might want to change the generation of the display device in parallel to the console. But what bothers me is: the fewer consoles that are popular with gamers, the lower the hardware base to which games that are ONLY available for PS5 and Xbox Series can be sold. That means we will probably experience a much longer phase in which Crossgen titles appear. Which in turn means: Games have to run on the old carrots, as the lowest common denominator, which means that technical innovations on the new consoles are denied us in many places. This is a pity. The fact that titles like Horizon: Forbidden West and the new God of War Ragnarök are also appearing for the PlayStation 4 make me happy for everyone who has not had any luck with getting the PlayStation 5 up to now. But it also makes me sad because I probably won’t be able to experience the hoped-for technical leaps in these titles, as with pure PlayStation 5 exclusive titles.
Flop: Availability of the Xbox Mini Fridge
Yes I know. Mini fridges are actually never climate-neutral or climate-friendly. They are usually not very energy efficient, loud and the cooling performance is rather poor. Or so. And yet I wanted the Xbox Mini Fridge, the Xbox Series X meme made true by Microsoft. I would probably never have turned it on. Also because I prefer to enjoy drinks at room temperature even in midsummer. But as a decoration for my gaming corner and storage unit for a few energy drinks (which don’t really fit in as a 0.5 l can anyway) I would have been very happy about it. We got the cooling tower-of-power replica exclusively from Gamestop. For 99 € and approx. 4 seconds on the day of sale. Because then the contingents were sold out. There was the opportunity to buy the block cooler on eBay for a slim € 399. Great. Scalpers are no longer just for graphics cards, consoles and sneakers. Too bad. So far, there is no trace of the announced sale in regular trade. Maybe it will work out in 2022?
And if that was too much negativity: Of course, it wasn’t all bad in the game year 2021. Nerdout have once again published a great cross-section of the gaming landscape in 2021, which I don’t want to withhold from you.