Best of 2021 – Day Four: Action, RPG, Shooter, Action Adventure

Over the next eight days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2021 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best Action Game, RPG, Shooter, and Action Adventure Game.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Insomniac Games know how to develop excellent action. Give players a crazy arsenal of unique weapons, create a space for all kinds of wacky enemies, maybe develop an excellent setpiece moment, and then let players loose. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart follows that formula, giving players the wackiest collection of weapons yet in a Ratchet title and setting them loose in all kinds of scenarios to create all the action they can handle. The excellent level design keeps the mix of action, platforming and setpieces coming, ensuring all twenty weapons are usable. Root enemies to the ground with the Topiary Sprinkler and then blast them with The Enforcer, or Zap them with the Lightning Rod and then have minions from the Glove of Doom swarm them like a pack of Compsognathus from Jurassic Park. The sheer amount of fun weaponry ensures every battle is a joy. 2021 was a banner year for the action genre, but none made action as chaotic or fun as Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

Runner-Ups
Lost Judgment Hitman 3 Monster Hunter Rise Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Tales of Arise

For nearly a decade, we’ve been begging for a Tales game that truly went above and beyond the formula into something evolutionary. While most of them in that time period were enjoyable, they maintained a linear dungeon design, an inconsistent visual aesthetics, and to a certain degree, bland characters. Tales of Arise fixes most of this, creating a vibrant world with a fascinating cast of characters and gorgeous scenery that blend perfectly with the visual quality of the character models. On top of that, Bandai Namco has also implemented a more open environment setting that allows for true adventure and exploration. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Tales game if it didn’t have its fast-paced combat, and Arise delivers, containing the best and most exciting system to date. There’s just so much the developers have done right with this release, something I hope they continue to expand upon in future releases. There were amazing RPGs released this year, and it’s refreshing to see a Tales game stands on top of them.

Runner-Ups
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker NEO: The World Ends with You Loop Hero Shin Megami Tensei V

Deathloop

With the Dishonored games, Arkane proved that they could master the art of stealth when it comes to video video games. With Prey, it proved that they could master the art of gunplay as well. So unsurprisingly, a mixture of the two ended up being rather successful, and helped give birth to one of the year’s most unique and best shooters, one that has you sees you either sniping Visionaries from afar, taking them one up close with shotguns if you’ve sneaked up to them, clearing out swarms of enemies with a hard-earned SMG that lets you reload while still firing, whatever it takes to get Colt one one step closer to ending the loop. The unique sets of unlockable buffs you can apply to each gun and the abilities they possess on their own provide a great variety of weapons to try out and collect through multiple loops, but the game nicely encourages you to be clever in how you use them, with wide, open levels that allow you to try out whatever plan of attack you think works best. Be it fast-faced action or something more subtle, Deathloop is a shooter that can easily satisfy any fan.

Runner-Ups
Halo Infinite Returnal Far Cry 6 Resident Evil Village

Psychonauts 2

Although the original Psychonauts earned its cult classic status through its unique premise and memorable characters, it’s hard to argue that the 2005 title truly nailed any of its gameplay mechanics, as both its platforming and combat never reached the heights of the standout titles in that era of action-adventure games. Fast forward sixteen years, and Psychonauts 2 has managed to be not only the sequel that fully lives up to the long wait, but a game that’s legitimately fun to play whether players are traversing bizarre landscapes or fighting someone’s inner demons. As the brains that Raz enters get more outlandish, the “platforms” that Raz must use to traverse them also escalate in their eccentricity, forcing players to make split-second decisions in how they approach these unconventional platforming challenges. Meanwhile, the combat does an excellent job at taking full advantage of Raz’s psychic powers, making it easy and enjoyable to stun enemies with telekinesis or burn them from afar before coming in for the finishing blow. Psychonauts 2 is the rare game that manages to delight and impress with each new world, making it a worthwhile action-adventure game for new players and longtime fans alike.

Runner-Ups
Metroid Dread It Takes Two Death’s Door Little Nightmares II

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