Looking forward at 2021: Sony
Will there be enough PS5 units for everyone to play this year’s exclusives?
With the release of a new generation of consoles we tend to stop and evaluate all that happened with the last one, in this case, the PlayStation 4. Sony dominated the last generation from start to end, they released a lot of great exclusive games and placed the PS4 as one of the most sold consoles ever, with more than 113 million units sold, according to the official SIE website.
The future, now with the PlayStation 5, seems to be heading for success, but there were a lot of problems with how it started. Preorders were available at unannounced times in different online retailers, and even now, months after release, it’s still very difficult to buy one. This leads to the first ‘Sony 2021 expectation’, and that is meeting the demand with enough units.
I’m sure that, for Sony, having your console be Out of Stock is a marketing play. They need to make their product feel special, but the ‘online only’ way to buy the console is definitely an issue due to bots and scalpers. As things slowly shift back to normal, it’s safe to assume that more people will have their hands on the PS5, let’s hope that by the end of the year we can all finally join this new generation, including myself.
Regarding game announcements and release dates, Sony will probably keep the ‘State of Play’ format premiering them sporadically. The company was not a part of E3 2019 and it’s a trend that might continue, although they could participate in other events like TGS. The ‘new generation excitement’ is a huge factor that influences how they’ll approach this year, so the best course of action is to wait for their new marketing strategy with the PS5.
As of the writing of this article there’s only two PlayStation games with release dates, the first one being Returnal. This title is being developed by Housemarque, the studio responsible for Resogun, the highly praised PS4 launch title. Their new PS5 exclusive, Returnal, is set to release April 30th after the recent delay that pushed the game off its original March 19th date.
Returnal is a Sci-fi game that seems to bring the ‘Bullet Hell’ experience, that the developers are very familiar with, to a 3D environment and mix it with Roguelike mechanics, as seen on the latest trailer. This will be a smaller first-party title compared to the other juggernauts, so it remains to be seen if Returnal will captivate fans and be well received.
Next in line is MLB The Show 21. This Baseball simulator sets itself as the best in the genre and its very well received by fans and critics. Sony recently announced that the game will be released April 20th, and for the first time ever it will also be available on Xbox. This is a very interesting move since it’s a first-party title, a console exclusive up to this point. Fans of the sport will be able to enjoy the game in the last generation of consoles and the new one.
Sony has a good amount of announced games, but without release dates we are left with release windows and logical deductions. The first game of the bunch is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a continuation to the series’ story that won’t require previous knowledge to be enjoyed (Although I highly recommend playing the 2016 reboot because it’s a great game). This title is promising to demonstrate the PS5 loading speed and how something like this could only be achieved in the new generation. The trailer and gameplay leads us to believe that the core mechanics of the game are still the same with new additions that go with the Rift theme. Sony gave the game a “First haft of 2021” release window, so it shouldn’t be long until we have a definitive date.
Another announced title to keep an eye out for is Gran Turismo 7. This series has been part of PlayStation since the very first console, and there’s a significant community surrounding it. The latest entry in the series was Gran Turismo Sport, for the PS4, meaning that it has been 8 years since Gran Turismo 6. For the fans of driving simulators, it seems like this new title promises to be a step into the right direction. Earlier reports had the game with a First Half of 2021 release window but recent rumors point towards the Second Half. Despite the mixed reports regarding the release date, it’s very likely that Gran Turismo 7 will come out this year.
PlayStation released multiple new IPs in the last generation, and one of them is already getting a sequel. Horizon Forbidden West was announced during the PS5 reveal and it’s highly expected by fans, since the first game was a success and managed to set a good foundation for the future. In this new title we see Aloy, the protagonist, venturing to new lands as a new form of corruption is taking place. It will be really interesting to see this post- apocalyptic take on San Francisco. The game doesn’t have a release date yet but it’s expected to come out in the Second Half of 2021.
All the games mentioned up to this point are very likely to come out in 2021 and be a part of the PS5’s first year, and unfortunately that certainty isn’t present with a few already announced titles. God of War: Ragnarok is the first one to plant some doubt. The game was announced at the end of the PS5 showcase and it had little to show, ending with a big 2021 on screen. Watching this teaser would leave anyone that played the 2018 game excited, since that title is a masterpiece, but realistically speaking, is it really coming out this year? The answer is: I want to believe but most likely, no.
A game of this magnitude always comes with a cycle of marketing, this title alone will sell PS5 units and Sony knows that. So far we haven’t seen anything from the game and well, the clock is ticking. With the engine and formula already in place, this sequel won’t take as much time to develop as its predecessor, but given the circumstances of the global pandemic is safe to assume that every game was affected. Even if a 2/2.5 years of development seems to be enough, this is game that Santa Monica Studio and Sony wants to be perfect, and that takes time. It hurts to say, but God of War: Ragnarok is probably coming out in 2022.
Another title that is surrounded by uncertainty is the multiplayer mode for The Last of Us Part II. This might be unfamiliar for a majority of players that enjoyed the game’s story, but yes, the award winning title will feature some form multiplayer (even if not attached to the project). The first game in the series, released in 2013, had a multiplayer part called Factions, with three ‘player vs player’ modes that were true to the game’s mechanics. The success of Factions led Naughty Dog, the developers, to consider this experience for Part II, but to ensure the quality of the game the team had to focus on the single player portion first. The full statement regarding the multiplayer can be checked here. Given the fact that The Last of Us Part II was released in 2020, this multiplayer game is most likely coming out in 2022.
As we look and analyze Sony’s lineup of games for 2021 and beyond, it becomes clear that more games will be announced this year and there’s a great future ahead for PlayStation players. Other than the first-party titles, games like Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Deathloop and Ghost Wire Tokyo are also coming to Sony’s platforms as exclusives. We are just starting the year, let’s hope that 2021 is amazing for games, no matter which platform you play on.