AAA of 2021 Year: Resident Evil Village, Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy, Deathloop
2021 year turned out to be a real hell for AAA games. Far Cry 6, Call of Duty: Vanguard and Battlefield 2042, GTA were trampled by players.
Third place - Resident Evil Village
Capcom management listened to the players who found the previous part of the series too scary, and deliberately decided to make the Village less creepy. Nevertheless, the game did not hit the outright pop, as it was with Resident Evil 6. The eighth part of the series is still a solid, gloomy horror with recognizable aesthetics, sometimes quite nervous and tense, even if it is not able to scare to complaints in reviews. And the variety of locations and situations in the game is such that everyone will find something to their liking.
Fans of the fourth part were brought an Eastern European village with crazy cultist residents. Those who have fallen into the soul of P.T. Kojima will surely like the creepy mansion of the puppeteer. Fans of Gothic will find vampires and werewolves in the vicinity of the village, fans of Lovecraft - the fishman. Moreover, Capcom somehow managed to connect all these ideas with evil corporations, biological weapons and other permanent cliches of the franchise. How cleverly they were connected is another question, but who cares about the rationality of the Resident Evil plot? Moreover, this plot gave us, perhaps, the most memorable female character from the games of recent years. It's just a pity that the date with the charming lady Dimitrescu turned out to be so fleeting.
Second place - Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Who would have thought that Square Enix, having failed loudly with Marvel's Avengers, would take revenge in just a year, and its next game — Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy — would become one of the highlights of the outgoing season? The developers have focused on the most detailed linear levels, full of battles, chatter and jokes from charismatic characters. Classic. There are no sandbox elements familiar to AAA projects with a million identical side effects, there are no premium stores with pumping accelerators. Instead of boring grind, location races are accompanied by dialogues, dialogues, dialogues... Inventive, reckless, friendly. It's as if the player is not protecting the galaxy from a cosmic cult, but communicating with old friends at a picnic in a neighboring constellation.
Even the action in "Guardians" turned out to be not at all what one would expect from a superhero action. Instead of just calling out opponents, the player in the role of the Star Lord gives orders to his comrades, and Groot, Rocket, Gamora and Drax deal with problems. Such an unusual system really knocks out of the comfort zone: according to the feelings of the gameplay, it is in some sense similar to martial art, rhythmic and musical in its own way. The developers were able to return at least some sense of novelty to the AAA games. And they also made me seriously worry about the fate of a harmful raccoon and a talking tree — it's worth a lot.
Worthy of mention
And now we will briefly tell you about those who fell just a little short of getting into the top three.
With Hitman 3, everything is clear: IO Interactive does not do hack work. Epic, large-scale, high-quality. The developers have polished the formula of social stealth to the ideal and do not plan to change anything in it. Therefore, of the innovations, the third part offers only a spy camera. But each of the six giant missions is like a separate game with its own mood, entourage and a bunch of ways to spectacularly deal with goals. So there is no shortage of variety.
Forza Horizon 5 has a similar story. The developers have kept everything that fans love about the series, but the shortcomings, too, seem to have been carefully transferred from the previous parts. Nevertheless, this is still a great arcade sandbox race with excellent graphics, where you can get stuck for dozens of hours.
First place - Deathloop
Yes, the finalist this time is ambiguous. If you wish, you can rightly reproach Arkane Studios with a lot of things, but the most significant drawback of their new work is the repetitiveness - this is the inevitable payment for the embodiment of the time loop around which the whole idea of Deathloop revolves. Remember "Groundhog Day— - you will immediately understand why the idea is not so easy to implement. And the gameplay involves a lot of different mechanics: there are elements of detective, metroidvania, and roguelike. Arkane's signature immersive foundation, of course, is also present: multi-level locations are filled with secrets, plot details and dozens of alternative paths. And it all works like clockwork.
However, what Arkane managed best and what is simply impossible to find fault with is immersion in the era of the 1960s. This is the time of hippies, rebellious youth and hedonism, when it seemed to everyone that he would live forever. In Deathloop, a small group of the best representatives of the generation - scientists, creators and party-goers - hovered in a temporary anomaly on a small island where every bump screams about freedom of expression. Bright colors, music as if from comedies with Louis de Funes, echoes of the sexual revolution. For a unique opportunity to fall in love with the swinging era, get fed up with it, hate it and, finally, shoot all these pretentious hippies, Deathloop gets the first place.
For the sphere of AAA games, 2021 is good, at least by the fact that it has ended. And also the opportunity to draw conclusions (primarily to giant studios) that there are no unsinkable titles. There are a lot of potentially cool releases ahead of us: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, God of War: Ragnarök, Elden Ring and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl. We really hope that, remembering the scolding that gamers gave to the elite of the gaming industry, the developers will try to bring their creations to mind before release. Then the difficulty of choosing the best AAA game of the year will lie in the abundance of applicants, not in their scarcity.