2021 has been a very strong year in gaming for me, helped in no small part by the fact I managed to get hold of both a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X during it. Not all the games have been winners, and there’s still a hefty number I am yet to play at time of writing, but have no fear, I’ve still come up with five games I absolutely loved and will have no issue extolling the virtues of each of them now. Let’s kick things off with one of the free PlayStation Plus offerings from November!

5) First Class Trouble

I didn’t expect to find this game here either, but here it is nonetheless! Despite a bit of a rocky start with the Among Us clone, several of my sessions with First Class Trouble had to be momentarily postponed while I composed myself after laughing so hard at the absolute lunacy that frequently unfolds. I’ve never had so much fun lying to my friends, and the fact the game was free at launch via PlayStation Plus made it all the sweeter.

I still occasionally dip into it with random players as I love waiting until late in the game and killing myself while nobody is watching, just for absolute carnage to unfold while the remaining players try to find me, and debate how I could have possibly been killed while they thought they had line of sight on each other. Such fun!

4) Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

I managed to get a PlayStation 5 just a week ahead of this game’s release, and it was certainly perfect timing as I loved the game from beginning to end, and still loved it after going through the whole thing again on Challenge Mode. The sparkling visuals, heightened immersion via the phenomenal DualSense controller mixed in with a great story and writing made Rift Apart a true privilege to play, and a perfect introduction to the new console generation.

3) Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut

The Director’s Cut of this already stunning and cinematic experience has taken a near-perfect game and stabbed the ‘near’ through the gut and thrown it into the sea. I spent around a month of this year completely addicted to the experience, even though I played it to completion last year on PlayStation 4 as well! My birthday this year was dominated by clearing out the second region of Tsushima as I was too glued to my TV to do anything else. No regrets.

2) Skyrim: Anniversary Edition

Despite originally believing I wouldn’t play more than a couple hours of the most recent revision of Skyrim, in actual fact I went on to play it for 33 hours.. With the same greatly improved graphics you remember the PS4 / Xbox One version brought but now with dramatically reduced loading times, this is Skyrim as you’ve never played it before. The ability to get so much more done in a play session because of the reduced time waiting for a location transition to happen turns the immersion all the way up to eleven, and the new content such as, but not limited to, fishing and a few new quests brings a fresh helping of things to do in this majestic and sensational country.

1) Forza Horizon 5

I said it in my review and I’m standing by it: Forza Horizon 5 is my game of the year. The full review is linked here but to give you a single quote which summarises my whole opinion of the experience, ‘Forza Horizon 5 has killed the open-world racing genre as it is sheer perfection. There is nowhere to go from here, no improvements to be made, no trivialities to be trimmed’. If you have Xbox Game Pass you can play Forza Horizon 5 for free right now. The only reasonable excuse for not playing it is because you don’t have an Xbox or PC.

And that’s my 2021 in gaming! The rest of Respawning will be posting their games of the year later this week and so we invite you to join us as we talk about them in the final run-up to Christmas. Let us know your favourite game of 2021 in the comments, and I’ll catch you again in the New Year!