Despite the ton of new games that debuted this year, there were plenty of already existing ones that just got better and better in 2021.
IGN's winner for best ongoing game of 2021 is…
Final Fantasy XIV
Following its miraculous rise from the ashes nearly a decade ago, Final Fantasy XIV has proven time and time again that it delivers the best of what both JRPGs and MMOs have to offer. Director/Producer Naoki Yoshida and team have successfully crafted a fantasy world filled to the brim with wonder, with stories to find and tell around every corner. Whether it’s in the epic main storyline, the incredibly welcoming community, or the fiercely active endgame scene, it is exceptionally difficult for one to not be able to find something of worth in the living, breathing world of Eorzea. The game is constantly updating and expanding, with each successive version significantly better than the one before, and we doubt that the upcoming Endwalker expansion will be any different. And with an unlimited free trial that extends all the way to level 60 with access to the critically-acclaimed expansion Heavensward, getting into this wonderful game has never been easier. – Jay Park
For more, check out IGN's Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was justifiably criticized for its lack of support through most of 2021, sapping some of its momentum after a remarkable 2020. That changed with two massive content releases: the 2.0 release that introduced Brewster along with a huge amount of free content, and the new Happy Home Paradise DLC expansion, which is like a self-contained game in itself, allowing you to design a custom vacation island for your villagers while steadily acquiring new items and other unlockables. Taken together they have transformed Animal Crossing: New Horizons, adding in hundreds of new items, characters, mechanics, and secrets. While Nintendo is winding down support for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, these two large updates — combined with various other excellent additions and in-game updates — make Animal Crossing well worth revisiting into 2022. – Kat Bailey
For more, check out IGN's Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise Review.
Apex Legends has continued its sophomore year of bringing one of if not the best free-to-play Battle Royale to fans. 2021 saw it reach the hands of Nintendo Switch owners, as well as the addition of 4 new seasons and legends, multiple limited-time events, and a fourth map. We keep coming back to Apex due to its constant balancing and game updates, new game modes, and a consistently updated metagame for the supported Apex Legends Global series to attract pros and aspiring pros. – Jada Griffin
For more, check out IGN's Apex Legends review (2021).
Fortnite has been a constant in the pop culture world the last few years, bringing in characters from current movies, TV shows, and other video games, all while connecting them to the storyline of Fortnite Chapter 2. This year brought The Mandalorian and Grogu to the battle pass for a bounty hunter-themed season, which also saw the continued plot of Jonesy (the original Fortnite character) trying to figure out how to stop the Imagined Order. In between numerous live story events, free Ariana Grande concerts, tournaments, and other event challenges with free in-game rewards, Fortnite also told a major side story via a DC comic book series that showed how Batman accidentally arrived at the Fortnite Island, with an ambiguous ending that sets up a future plot to have Batman and other major DC characters permanently affect the in-game storyline in Fortnite Chapter 3. Absolutely nuts in the best possible way. – Jeffrey Vega
For more, check out IGN's Fortnite review.
If the greatness of an ongoing game were measured by sheer quantity of content, Genshin Impact would have this in the bag. Despite launching with a massive open-world already stuffed with quests, characters, treasures, and things to explore, Genshin’s second year has somehow found a way to pack in even more in 2021, including an entire new continent to explore along with piles of new characters, quests, enemies, and weapons. All that volume alone does sometimes make one pause, cognizant that Genshin Impact’s world is technically an endless treadmill, but miHoYo’s contributions over the last year are so far from repetitive filler that this feeling is quickly swallowed up in fascination with what new discovery lies over the next mountain. Inazuma in particular is gorgeous and full of fascinating stories and characters, a number of which also bring interesting new playstyles to Genshin if you can manage to get ahold of them. And yeah, the gorgeous soundtrack keeps getting better too. – Rebekah Valentine
For more, check out IGN's Genshin Impact review.
All IGN Best Of 2021 Gaming Categories
- Best Game of the Year 2021
- Best Console Exclusive of the Year 2021
- Best Action Game of the Year 2021
- Best Action-Adventure Game of the Year 2021
- Best Puzzle Game of the Year 2021
- Best Racing Game of the Year 2021
- Best RPG of the Year 2021
- Best Shooter of the Year 2021
- Best Strategy Game of the Year
- Most Accessible Game of the Year 2021
- Best Music in a Video Game of the Year 2021
- Best Ongoing Game of the Year
- Best Performance of the Year 2021
- Best Story of the Year 2021
- Best Video Game Art of the Year 2021
IGN's Best of 2021 Awards were designed by:
Lead Design + Art Direction: Julia Rago
Motion Graphics: Will Batchelor