Ars Technica’s top 20 video games of 2021

In the world of video games, 2021 may forever be remembered as the year of COVID’s great reckoning. 2020 was already rough, but many of its biggest games were mostly completed in a normal development cycle. Projects slated for the following year weren’t as lucky.

Thus, this year’s gaming news was rich with delays, piping-hot launches, unfinished messes, and game publishers scrambling to fill their schedules with undercooked backup plans. And that says nothing about gamers themselves, wondering if crucial chips and parts might ever be plentiful enough again so they can buy the latest in console and PC gear.

Yet against all odds, fantastic games still crossed 2021’s finish line, ranging from big-budget behemoths to surprising indies. This year, in an effort to reduce ranking-based ire and celebrate every game on our list, we’re removing numbered rankings, with the exception of crowning a formal Ars Technica pick for Best Video Game of 2021 at the list’s very end.

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