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[hytale 2021]Refreshingly modern dinosaurs and a cyberpunk cat: our games picks for 2021

  Last year’s ensemble Avengers game was a bit of a disappointment, so DC fans will be hoping for better from this action game set in the Batman universe. As Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and Red Hood, you push back against the ever-encroaching criminal forces of Gotham. It looks moody and ultra-stylish.

  Release date: TBC

  A stylish art-deco shooter about a time-travelling assassin caught in a time loop. Stuck in an endlessly repeating island party, he must take out eight of its guests – but the really interesting part is that another assassin, controlled by another player, is trying to stop him doing exactly that. It could easily be the plot of an avant-garde action film.

  Release date: 21 May

  Stray is a third-person cat adventure game.

  Stray is a third-person cat adventure game. Photograph: BlueTwelve

  I think we can all agree that there are nowhere near enough video games that let you play as a cat. In Stray, from arthouse publisher Annapurna, you are a wandering cat trying to escape a city of robots. Cyberpunk metropolises are hardly uncommon in games, but we’ve never been able to explore one from this viewpoint before, nimble and unseen.

  Release date: TBC

  This was supposed to be an Xbox Series X launch game in 2020, but we’re hoping that the delay will give developer 343 Industries the chance to polish up the oddly bland-looking, by-the-numbers shooter demo we saw last year. At its best, Halo is pure space opera: all action and soaring scores, daring escapes in roaring vehicles and preposterous firefights against the alien hordes. Fingers crossed for that.

  Release date: TBC

  Monsters and magic … Hogwarts Legacy.

  Monsters and magic … Hogwarts Legacy. Photograph: Warner Bros

  The game that promises to fulfil every millennial’s dormant dreams of going to Hogwarts. This is set in the late 1800s during the pre-Fantastic Beasts era rather than the better-known Potter timeline, and will set you off on an adventure involving monsters and magic both inside and outside the walls of the castle.

  Release date: TBC

  Like the idea of fighting robot dinosaurs on a far-future Earth reclaimed by nature? One of the PlayStation 5’s flagship games, Horizon Forbidden West sends brilliant red-headed protagonist Aloy on a search for the secrets about what happened to what used to be California. Going by what we’ve seen so far, no game has ever been so gorgeous.

  Release date: TBC

  Watch the trailer for Horizon Forbidden West on YouTube

  This blocky role-playing and exploration game made by a team of Minecraft modders was instantly welcomed as the “new Minecraft” when it was first shown in 2018. That trailer has been viewed more than 57m times now, so the game has a lot of hype to live up to. More visually refined and adventure-oriented than Minecraft, it could be the next huge thing for the teen and preteen crowd (and their parents).

  Release date: TBC

  Some of us have been waiting more than 15 years for this sequel. It’s a game about a weird little kid who can journey through people’s minds, busting out telekinesis and levitation to find his way around their trippy, endearingly strange inner worlds. It promises interesting battles with inner demons and a wicked, black-tinged sense of humour.

  Release date: TBC

  Don’t be fooled by the dinosaurs … Goodbye Volcano High is modern.

  Don’t be fooled by the dinosaurs … Goodbye Volcano High is modern. Photograph: KO_OP

  Anthropomorphic dinosaurs feel their way through their final year of high school in this unusual-looking game, which digs deep into teen emotions, budding romance and coming-of-age themes. Graduation approaches; will you tell that person how you really feel about them? Will the band stay together? Don’t be fooled by the dinosaurs, this looks refreshingly modern.

  Release date: TBC

  Remember Journey (2012), the tear-jerking arthouse adventure game about finding your way up a mountain? Picture that, but reimagined by Studio Ghibli, and you’re getting close to what Sable is. The setting is sand and sprawling desert, the beautiful animation looks as if it belongs in an Oscar nominee, the vibes are chill and mysterious. You’ll spot other nomads on your travels, and can team up to solve a puzzle, or create a momentary connection.

  Release date: TBC