Fall is almost here, which means the busiest game season of the year is upon us. The rush of heavily anticipated new videogames started in earnest last week, with the release of Tales of Arise and new WarioWare and Life is Strange games, and it’ll only pick up pace as we get closer to Thanksgiving. And then, once December hits, it’ll come to an almost complete stop, with the would-be megaton of Halo Infinite pretty much exclusively dominating that month.
As exciting as it might be, you won’t find Halo Infinite on our list of the most anticipated games of the fall. This is Paste’s list, yes, but it’s also fundamentally my list, and my personal tastes don’t necessarily run towards the biggest and flashiest action games. Halo Infinite seems cool; the eight games below appeal to me just a little bit more, though.
(And if you’re wondering who I am, I’m Garrett. I’ve been editing Paste’s games coverage for over a decade. I don’t get it, either.)
So hey: here’s what the rest of 2021 has in store for all of us who enjoy videogames. From esoteric experiments to the latest installment of one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, I know what I’ll be playing this fall.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PC
Release Date: Sept. 14
Arkane Studios established itself as one of the premier designers of big budget game spaces with the Dishonored series. Their new game, Deathloop, seems to focus more on fast-paced gunplay and action than Dishonored did, but that trailer above is still dripping in character, from the assassin Colt and the city surrounding him, to the secondary player character Julianna, who can invade other players’ games for some Souls-style multiplayer fights. Between that multiplayer trick and the game’s central conceit of a constantly recurring 24-hour time loop, Deathloop might be juggling too many gimmicks, but Arkane earned a good bit of leeway with Dishonored 2.
Platforms: PlayStation 4 and 5, PC
Release Date: Sept. 21
Kena: Bridge of Spirts is the first game from a studio who has previously focused on animation, and when you get a look at it that makes sense. It looks absolutely gorgeous, like an animated film more than a game. Recognizable influences include Breath of the Wild and Studio Ghibli movies, so expect Kena to hit hard for fans of either.
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Mac
Release Date: Sept. 23
Sable might have the best aesthetic of any game on this list. It looks like a Moebius comic come to life, and it boasts an original score from Paste favorite Japanese Breakfast. (We’ll be talking to her about Sable soon.) With that art, that music, and an open-ended approach to play that emphasizes exploration and doesn’t push the player in any specific direction, it looks like a potential classic chill out game.
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date: Sept. 24
The Yakuza spinoff Judgment was one of our favorite games when it came stateside in 2019, so the sequel is obviously on our radar. It’s a more action-oriented take on the Japanese pop culture blender that Yakuza has turned into, akin to the earlier games in that parent series. The Yakuza series is consistently one of the best written in games—simultaneously over-the-top and human in a way most games aren’t—and the first Judgment kept that spirit alive. Watch the age-restricted trailer for the trailer here.
Release Date: Oct. 8
There’s a certain subset of the gaming public whose tastes were heavily formed by Metroid or one of its sequels, and I openly admit to being one of them. More than even The Legend of Zelda, the first Metroid showed that a videogame could be much bigger, more challenging, and more thought-provoking than I realized as a kid, and as its core attributes have been refined across several later installments (even inspiring an entire terribly named genre), they’ve continued to hook me more deeply than any other style of game. I’m not saying I can’t be impartial when it comes to a new Metroid—some of them have been terrible—but a good Metroid is better than almost anything else you’ll ever play. And a great Metroid? Well, sometimes I wonder why I ever play anything else. Who knows where Metroid Dread will fall on the spectrum, but it has a good pedigree, coming from the developers of the excellent Metroid: Samus Returns. Hopefully it doesn’t collapse under the weight of being the first original side-scrolling Metroid game in almost 20 years.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Oct. 12
It’s been a while, but the studio behind Left 4 Dead finally gets back to what they do best: making four-player co-op zombie shooters. As our preview last month noted, though, Back 4 Blood is a surprisingly different game than Left 4 Dead. A new randomized card mechanic makes it more chaotic and unpredictable, while also giving players more control than in those older games. Our writer Moises Taveras wasn’t fully enamored with some of those new wrinkles, but he’s still optimistic about the final product, and hey, so are we. Watch the age-restricted trailer here, and read Paste’s preview here.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Release Date: Oct. 26
Based on that trailer I’m pretty sure Solar Ash is about rollerblading through Roger Dean’s album covers for Yes and Uriah Heep. Honestly, the trailer could make it look like absolutely anything and we’d still put it on this list, because the developers’ last game, Hyper Light Drifter, was so good. Solar Ash seems to have a similar art style, but its action seems focused more on exploring these epic psychedelic environments than the old school Zelda-style action of their previous game. Honestly Solar Ash and Sable look like they could be two sides of the same stylish, enigmatic coin.
Release Date: Nov. 12
It’s not often that a series becomes overshadowed by its spinoff, but thus is the fate of Shin Megami Tensei. It doesn’t have the name recognition of its spinoff series Persona, but it’s still beloved in its own right. The next numbered installment in Atlus’ 30-year-old RPG series returns to its focus on demon-fusing in the Tokyo of today, promising to blaze its own path while combining elements from both Shin Megami III and Shin Megami Tensei IV.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.