2021 was a very interesting year for gaming. Being the first full year of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S, the new consoles were able to provide a great selection of games that showcased the potential of each system. Nintendo, meanwhile, was able to provide solid titles that kept their steady sales numbers up.
With that being said, the 2021 Game Awards is also interesting, since the nominees for each category feel evenly matched, with no clear winners in sight, even for the year’s biggest prize.
With all of the 2021 Game Awards nominees announced, let’s predict which games and personalities will win each category!
Most Anticipated Game: Elden Ring
The Most Anticipated Game category has been pretty consistent over the past few years, with each winner usually becoming a big hit upon release. This year is no exception, with the likes of God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West providing a lot of hype for 2022. However, Elden Ring should take the award, especially with the closed beta providing fans with a taste of what the game offers.
Best Debut Game: Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Arguably one of the best adventure games of the year, Kena Bridge of Spirits provided old-school charm with spectacular visuals to create a solid debut title from the developer and publisher Ember Lab.
Best Multiplayer Game: It Takes Two
In an era where two-player split-screen co-op games are a thing of the past, It Takes Two revitalizes the formula for the new generation. With a lovely story and an eye-catching setting, this is an experience worth playing with a friend or partner.
Best Esports Game: Valorant
While it may have missed out on being the Best Multiplayer Game last year, Valorant has taken huge strides, becoming one of the biggest multiplayer games in the world, with an Esports scene that features some of the world’s best players. After hosting their first set of LAN tournaments this year, Valorant is shaping up to be the next big Esport.
Best Esports Athlete: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s most talented player, s1mple has proven time and again why he remains on top of his game with his raw talent and crisp headshots. After finally winning his first major, there is truly no doubt that he is one of the greatest of all time.
Best Esports Team: Sentinels
Being the champion of the first-ever Valorant LAN tournament, Sentinels won it in dominating fashion, never dropping a map throughout their run in Reyjavik. This also gave NA Esports a major title in a tournament where traditional FPS powerhouses like Brazil and EMEA are present.
Best Esports Event: 2021 VALORANT Champions Tour: Stage 2
Valorant showed the world that they’re ready to become the next big Esport in Berlin, where spectacular production values and presentation proved that Riot Games is heavily invested in creating another major world Esport.
Content Creator of the Year: Dream
One of the world’s biggest Minecraft content creators, Dream has created a huge community that helped make his following grow in just a few years. While his controversial speedrun is something that can affect his chances, his influence within the Minecraft community might give him an edge.
Best Sim/Strategy Game: Inscryption
We’re going for a wildcard pick here with Inscryption, a unique horror deck-builder where you have to play card games to escape a haunted demonic cabin. The game’s rogue-like structure helped create an intense experience where strategy and luck play a huge part in the experience.
Best Sports/Racing Game: Forza Horizon 5
The best racing game of the past decade, Forza Horizon 5, creates a fun arcade driving experience that boasts some of the best visuals in the genre and mechanics that racing sim vets and casual players can enjoy.
Best Family Game: It Takes Two
It Takes Two is one of the year’s most important titles, and we can see it winning the Best Family Game category because the game itself is quite a fun family bonding experience.
Best Fighting Game: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl
After quite a long time, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl finally gives Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series a worthy challenger, creating a fighting game with some of the most recognizable cartoon icons, and tight mechanics that make Smash veterans feel just at home.
Best Role Playing Game: Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise is the latest installment of the long-running Tales RPG Series. A game that looks and feels like a classic 90s RPG, Tales of Arise has a story with a lot of heart, along with action-packed combat that feels rewarding and satisfying.
Best Action/Adventure Game: Metroid Dread
The Metroid franchise has been quiet for the past few years, with the upcoming Metroid Prime 4 currently in development limbo. However, with the release of Metroid Dread, the franchise is now back on its adventure and platforming roots.
With great visuals, a haunting setting, and classic mechanics and boss battles, Metroid Dread is a wonderful homecoming for the franchise on a mainline Nintendo console.
Best Action Game: Far Cry 6
When it comes to the amount of action amongst 2021’s biggest games, Far Cry 6 has to be the most bombastic game of the year. Set in a fictional Latin American dictatorship called Yara, you lead a revolution to liberate the country using crazy weapons (a launcher that shoots CDs that play Macarena anyone?), a colorful cast of freedom fighters, and animal companions.
Innovation in Accessibility: Far Cry 6
Apart from being a great action game, Far Cry 6 also has great accessibility features that help guide players. From colorblind settings that enhance visual clarity to menu narration that provides useful information for the player, Far Cry 6 is an experience that can be played by many.
Best VR/AR Game: Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games in the long-running survival horror series, and its VR port is a technical wonder that provides players of the original game with a new perspective that increases immersion even more.
Best Community Support: No Man’s Sky
After 5 years, No Man’s Sky has become one of the most loved games around. With a slew of free updates that provide a treasure trove’s worth of content, Hello Games has completely turned the ship around after receiving harsh backlash during launch. This is even more evident when Steam reviews of the game went from Mostly Negative to Overwhelmingly Positive in that same time frame, showing that pouring love into a game can surely make it a bigger and better experience.
Best Mobile Game: Genshin Impact
Genshin Impact has steadily become one of the world’s most popular games, with thousands upon thousands of people playing each moment. It’s mostly because of the game’s wonderful cast of characters, a story that keeps players invested after each major update, and a huge open world that you can spend hours exploring. Truly the strongest competitor in the category.
Best Indie Game: 12 Minutes
Arguably one of the most unique games of the year (and another game that deals with a type of timeloop), 12 Minutes is a point-and-click adventure with an all-star voice cast and a gripping narrative. The game’s time restriction provides players with a chance to explore and piece out the story before it expires. This narrative experience provides a fresh new way of storytelling that will surely have a lasting impression.
Best Ongoing Game: Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is arguably the best Final Fantasy game in the past decade, creating a huge world with millions of players while keeping the classic FF series charm alive. This is constantly reinforced by major game expansions that add more narrative and content that people can dive into immediately. With the Endwalker expansion arriving soon, FFXIV continues to grow even years after launch.
Games for Impact: Life Is Strange: True Colors
The original Life Is Strange was a winner in this category, providing a touching narrative that tackles serious issues and excellent mechanics that help move the story forward. Life Is Strange: True Colors provides that same experience with new character Alex Chen as she uses her powers to feel other people’s emotions.
Best Performance: Maggie Robertson as Lady Dimitrescu (Resident Evil: Village)
There is no character that has captured the attention of the gaming and internet world quite like Lady Dimitrescu during the early half of the year. Maggie Robertson’s performance helped give Resident Evil: Village’s beginning section such a wonderful impression that it sets up what the entire game offers, making it one of the year’s best horror games.
Best Audio Design: Resident Evil: Village
Resident Evil: Village is one of the most atmospheric horror games of the year, creating a setting that provides something fresh while keeping the Resident Evil style intact. This is also evident in the audio design, keeping the players on their toes and keeping the eerie atmosphere alive all throughout.
Best Score and Music: Nier Replicant ver 1.22474487139
The Nier series has produced some of the most unique and cinematic games over the years, and Nier Replicant ver 1.22474487139 is a wonderful remaster that reintroduces fans to the original game. Like the incredibly wonderful Nier: Automata, the soundtrack is just as impressive and epic, with orchestral scores providing a nice background to the action and story.
Best Art Direction: Psychonauts 2
The original Psychonauts is one of the best-looking games of its generation in terms of art style, and the long-awaited Psychonauts 2 provides that same style with a new generation visual upgrade that brings even more life to the game. The game is stylish, with numerous mind-bending levels and effects that are just fun to look at in awe.
Best Narrative: It Takes Two
Being a story about a divorcing couple that turns into dolls after their daughter wanted a way to fix their relationship, It Takes Two tackles this serious narrative by creating an adventure that helps them understand and reconcile through the obstacles they face. Divorce is rarely talked about in video games, and It Takes Two helps provide a touching story that has a lot of heart.
Best Game Direction: It Takes Two
Directed by Joseph Fares, It Takes Two is another wonderful and tight-knit co-op experience from him. The game’s story blends in with the colorful world, and the gameplay seamlessly flows through to provide a really great game that everyone should give a shot at.
Game of the Year: Deathloop
With a year that spawned games with unique and interesting game mechanics and storytelling, Deathloop provided a combination of both. A shooter with a strict time limit during each playthrough, Deathloop constantly challenges you with knowing the layout of each area, and mastering your weapons and gear to get through in the fastest way possible.
While it may not be the most conventional pick, Deathloop’s mechanics and style is something that makes it a game that will be remembered during the decade.
And that is it for our 2021 Game Awards predictions! This has been another great year for gaming, and is a great indicator of what 2022 will offer in terms of big releases.
About the Author
A former teacher and guitarist, Jude (Twitter, Instagram) is currently a writer that covers video games and is one of the co-hosts of The Geeky Juans. Apart from hosting the podcast, you can also catch him streaming at Dude It’s Jude on Facebook.