The five best PlayStation games of 2021

This year was for the underdogs.

Image via PlayStation

The story is part of Gamepur’s Best of 2021 round-up.

While a few new releases have come along for PlayStation consoles, the major titles that most people were excited about have been delayed out of the year. However, this has cleared more space for the games that may otherwise have slipped under the radar or not gotten the attention they deserve. Next year will be another blockbuster-packed twelve months for Sony’s platforms, but this year has been one for the underdogs and upgrades.

5. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Screenshot by Gamepur
  • Released on June 11, 2021
  • Developed by Insomniac Games
  • Published by PlayStation Studios

Ratchet and Clank’s latest adventure doesn’t bring a lot to the table if you’re looking for a revolutionary new take on the franchise. However, it manages to translate the classic formula over to the PS5 incredibly well, making the most of every ounce of power the machine can provide. Outside of the stunning visuals, the rifts are the most impressive feature, transporting you between two completely different worlds instantly.

In many ways, it feels like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart wouldn’t have been possible on the PS4, but what really hammers that home is the DualSense controller. Each weapon and interaction has a unique feel, immersing you in the experience more than ever before. While it’s not the best example of DualSense adaptive trigger use the console has to offer, when combined with what you see on-screen, it makes for an essential purchase for any PlayStation fan.

4. Hitman 3

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Screenshot by Gamepur
  • Released on January 20, 2021
  • Developed and published by IO Interactive

The last entry in the Hitman reboot trilogy really is the best. Hitman 3 is packed with six new locations for fans to explore and murder their way through in whatever way they want. While the main campaign left a lot to be desired, each location is packed with enough challenges to keep you engaged for months on end. Of course, that’s without including all the levels from Hitman 2016 and Hitman 2, which can be played within Hitman 3 with all the improvements the developers made in it.

What makes the game shine on PlayStation is the PSVR compatibility, allowing you to tackle each location as if you were Agent 47 himself. It’s an unrivaled experience on consoles. Developer IO Interactive has delivered an action-packed first year of post-launch content, with even more planned for 2022. In terms of value for money, this game has it all with bells on, so much so that you may never get through it all.

3. Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut

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Screenshot by Gamepur
  • Released on August 20, 2021
  • Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
  • Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment

Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best PlayStation titles of 2020. This year, the game got an upgrade to PS5, which would have been enough. However, Sucker Punch Productions added an entirely new expansion to the game with the Director’s Cut, bringing a new story and island to explore. So even fans who had completed everything there is to do in the base game had a reason to go back, and it’s safe to say that it was worth it.

The Iki Island expansion is the star of this game. Even if you didn’t play the base game, exploring Iki Island and its story fits so well into the narrative that you would have thought it was included at launch. There’s enough to do in the expansion to justify the expense of the upgrade, but it’s better on PS5, where the DualSense brings the game to life like never before. This all goes without adding that the Legends multiplayer portion of the game was also expanded with this release to include co-op.

2. Returnal

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Screenshot via PlayStation YouTube
  • Released on April 30, 2021
  • Developed by Housemarque
  • Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment

Returnal is a roguelike shooter that wouldn’t have been given a second chance had another major PS5 exclusive launched soon after it. The game sees you battle your way through an entire planet, destroying bosses along the way, creating the perfect build to help you reach the end. The biggest bugbear that players have with the game is the inability to save, though an update in late 2021 added a half measure to appease those who wanted it.

The game is the perfect blend of an intense story told through scattered puzzle pieces and intense roguelike gunplay that requires you to balance a build with the right weapons and abilities carefully. Managing your health and damage output is as important as hitting your target. In addition, the wonderfully weird world and the way you interact with it through the DualSense creates a sense of drama and atmosphere that hasn’t been matched by any other game on the platform all year.

1. Deathloop

Image via Bethesda
  • Released on September 14, 2021
  • Developed by Arkane Studios
  • Published by Bethesda Softworks

Deathloop is our choice for the best PlayStation game of 2021. The game has a lot to offer players willing to dig into the time loop mechanic, learn their way around each level, and get the most out of what’s on offer. However, like Dishonored and Prey, developer Arkane Studios’ previous titles, this game isn’t for everyone. If you enjoy a game where you can freely explore the level, uncover secrets, play through in multiple ways, and unlock secret endings, then it’s for you. If, however, you want a shooter that takes you from A to B with as much action and as little deviation as possible, you may struggle.

We believe that Deathloop is the culmination of everything the developer has learned from its past titles. The powers are limited but work well within the context of the world as to the weapons. While you start as a weak nobody, you quickly master the time loop protagonist Colt is caught in to become much more powerful through knowledge instead of grinding levels. This is a polarizing game, but ultimately it’s the best you can get on PlayStation in 2021.