2020 was a bad year for the Sports and Racing genres. I covered that much in my piece on the best sports and racing games of 2020. Simply put, the year was all about Codemasters and Football Manager, with Football Manager consistently proving to be a great sports title and Codemasters keeping up with their great work on racing titles. 2021 is also looking like a bad year for the two genres, with few announced titles worth speaking about.
It would be easy to include Fifa 22 and PES 22 but the performance of both titles last year, FIFA the most egregious of the two, means I'm going to have to go on recent standards and not include them. Maybe they'll be added to the honourable mentions if only to pad the list. 2K are also excluded, simply being consistent at milking money via in-game gambling or producing atrocious wrestling games.
We know some titles will be coming and there are ones that have been announced but aren't guaranteed a 2021 launch, but they're included in one way or another. Either way, let's look at the bigger sports and racing games (potentially) coming out this year.
Genre: Racing. Platform: PlayStation 5.
We don't know if this is coming out this year. All we know is that it's been announced and there was an official advertisement that seemed to indicate it will be coming to us sometime in 2021. Of course, plans can change. These are the COVID times, and games can get delayed. If a delay means Gran Turismo 7 will be excellent and a return to true Gran Turismo form, then I'm all for it.
What do I mean by that, though? Well, honestly, Gran Turismo Sport isn't really Gran Turismo. It doesn't have the scale or the variety that the series had given its audience in the past. It's a spin-off more than anything else. That Gran Turismo 7 is a numbered entry, and it seems to be returning to the history of the franchise, promising hundreds of cars to collect, tune and race with.
Genre: Sports. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X.
Which game is the odd one out in between Trials, Steep, Far Cry and Legendary Fishing? The answer is Legendary Fishing. All four of the games were published by Ubisoft. Legendary Fishing is the only one not to have been developed by a Ubisoft studio, but that isn't why it's the odd one out. The reason is that all of the other games have lent something to the upcoming sports game Riders Republic.
Steep brings snowboards and skis. Trials brings bikes. Far Cry brings the wingsuits. Legendary Fishing, well, it is a sports game, but the wrong kind of sport. Riders Republic will take you to an open world (of course it does, it's Ubisoft) where you'll find yourself competing against the rest of the world, with over fifty players able to be on screen at the same time. There's no doubt that it looks interesting, coming across as an extreme sports version of The Crew. I can only hope it surpasses that impression.
Genre: Sports (Strategy). Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch.
Blood Bowl has always been an interesting enough series. That mixture of American Football and Warhammer, with the strategy gameplay, always keeps things... different. It's over the top, action-packed and, most of all, it makes you think. There are also a few good laughs to have as well, as you watch players beating the ever-loving hell out of each other, in a game that comes close to watching an old Wimbledon F.C. match.
This new iteration is being released to coincide with the tabletop version of Blood Bowl's new rules. It will also include four new playable races/factions: the Black Orcs, the Imperial Nobility, the Old World Alliance, and Chaos Renegades. You'll find a host of new abilities, a new campaign mode, a detailed player editor, and more. I hope this offers easier access to those of us who don't do the tabletop game.
Genre: Racing. Platform: PC, Xbox Series S/X.
Another game where we don't honestly know if it's coming out this year, or later. What we know is that this is going to be a redevelopment of the Forza series. While it's not expected for the game to replace both the cores series and Horizon, Forza Motorsport is looking to build on the history of the series and redeem mistakes made in more recent Forza titles.
With Forza Motorsport, we’re taking the lessons and evolutions of the entire history of Motorsport, and building an all new Motorsport experience that takes full advantage of the speed and immersion of Xbox Series X. That means you can expect stunning visuals and tech, such as ray tracing, native 4K, and 60 FPS, and some brand new game concepts, all intended to connect players to the Forza universe, and each other, like never before.
What would have been Forza Motorsport 8 is now just Forza Motorsport and, if it is released this year, the usual two-year release cycle will have been doubled to four years. New advancements like tyre and tyre pressure, atmosphere pressure and more models were all spoken about towards the end of 2019 on a Mixer stream, before Microsoft closed Mixer. Either way, especially after Gran Turismo's announcement, I imagine Microsoft will be pushing to have their own core racing franchise making an appearance on the new generation of consoles.
Genre: Sports (Simulation). Platform: PC (and others).
Let's be honest; this list is thin on the ground. Since it is, I will include a game already on the most anticipated strategy and simulation games of 2021. Here's Football Manager 2022 for you, as for why? Well, here's what I've already said:
Football Manager 2021 marked yet another push forward for the series, bringing it closer to the real thing than ever before. Yes, Football Manager 2022 hasn't even been announced yet, but I am taking a stab in the dark to predict that we will see another release this year. Maybe it's not much of a stab in the dark considering the series has been an annualised series since it began in 2004.
Will Football Manager 2022 be another push forward, making it even harder for me to rate the game when I review it? I'm always hoping for the game to advance, become more engaging and engrossing. The issue with that is that I've spent thousands of hours on the series so far, that number keeps rising. Either way, it's something to look forward to.
Sports and Racing Games of 2021 - It's Going to be a Long Year
Yes, a long year. We know several games are coming out despite not having been announced yet. They're only getting added to the honourable mentions to make it look bigger than it is. Will the quality of these games be up to the standard they should be? Who knows.
One will hope that EA and Konami will pull out all the stops to make a smash hit and a worthwhile entry in the FIFA and PES franchises, particularly as the new generation's install base should be at a decent level when these commonly launch. This is the only reason they're making the honourable mentions list.
Another question is if 2K will finally make a WWE game that's good or an NBA game that doesn't resemble Handsome Jack's Casino? Time will tell. Until we do find out, here are some of the games I haven't covered above but are worth keeping an eye on:
- Windjammers 2
- Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame 4
- Dangerous Driving 2
- Circuit Superstars
- FIFA 2022
- PES 2022
- F1 2021
I've possibly missed a game or two, please do mention them in the comments below if I have, but my hope now is that we get some big announcements and some concrete release dates for titles like Gran Turismo 7 and, hopefully, a soundtrack to match the excellence of Gran Turismo 3.