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Every Game That's Been Delayed In 2021

In an industry where release dates are sometimes set years in advance and then tied to specific windows, such as the holiday season, game delays have also seemingly become a regular part of the development cycle. However, 2021 has seen a unique set of circumstances, which have led to massive delays of an entire generation of games.

The trouble all began when the coronavirus pandemic started early in 2020. Games that developers thought were six months out were now no longer completable in the planned time frame. The launch of two next-generation consoles, the Series X|S and PlayStation 5, meant that signature franchises, such as Halo and Gran Turismo, had their next iterations on the way. Then, at the end of 2020, one of the highest-profile launch fiascos in years occurred with Cyberpunk 2077's incomplete arrival, which served as a reminder to developers that it isn't enough to get a game to market – they have to deliver on their promises.

Suddenly, hugely anticipated games weren't just being pushed back a few months to make up for time lost during the pandemic. Here is every game that has been delayed in 2021.

Returnal

On Jan. 28, a tweet account announced that Returnal, a PlayStation 5 exclusive, was being pushed back for an April 30, 2020 release date. The game was initially slated to arrive on March 19, but publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment decided to move that date "in order to give the team extra time to continue to polish the game to the level of quality players expect from Housemarque."

Returnal is one of the most highly anticipated PlayStation 5 exclusives set to arrive in the first half of 2021, promising a roguelike shooter experience in which the player relives the same day over and over. A gameplay trailer released before the game's delay showed the protagonist collecting various weapons, facing off against alien entities, and exploring a hostile world.

While that gameplay footage looks excellent, one of the game's most exciting elements is how Retunral leverages the PlayStation 5's new features, such as the new controller's adaptive triggers. The game will introduce control methods for alternate fire modes and precision aiming in more intuitive ways, complete with haptic feedback to help players receive information about their weapons without an extra display.

Humankind

While 2021 has been a challenging year for delays, with developers rushing to repair schedules damaged by the global pandemic, sometimes games just need a little extra polish before they're ready to go live. This appears to be the case for Humankind, a Civilization-style 4X from Amplitude Studios — original release date of April 22, 2020, was pushed to Aug. 17.

The news of the delay was announced in an in-depth developer blog on Games2Gether that appeared after the game's LUCY OpenDev allowed players who had pre-purchased Humankind to test the game and offer feedback. The developers announced in that blog that a difficult decision had been made to postpone the release until the summer. This would allow the developers to incorporate player suggestions and adjust a myriad of balance and interface issues, as well as adjust the game's tutorial.

In addition to providing a detailed explanation of what the team has planned to improve in Humankind, Amplitude Studios also announced it would be adding two new avatars for players who had preordered the game.

New World

Amazon Game Studios has had a rough run. The game publishing arm of the e-commerce giant has only managed to release one of the three high-profile games it promised back in 2016, Crucible, and even that was unreleased from digital storefronts only a couple of months after it arrived. The only one left in production, New World, an MMO set in a fictionalized era of exploration, received another setback after its Spring 2021 release date was pushed back to Aug. 31.

New World's delay was implemented to respond to player feedback from a 2020 preview event, which will improve the combat mechanics and add endgame content. However, this is far from the first development issue the game has faced. The game was initially slated to launch at the time the 2020 preview event started (Aug. 25th, 2020), but was pushed back to 2021 "to ensure that the most dedicated players have plenty of middle and endgame experiences as they venture through Aeternum."

Deathloop

Deathloop had its release date moved back a second time on April 8, when the developers announced through Twitter that the game was now scheduled to launch on Sept. 14, 2021. The tweet from game director Dinga Bakaba and art director Sebastien Mitton cited a commitment to protecting the team's safety while "preserving our team's ambitions for Deathloop."

The time-bending shooter from Arkane Studios was initially planned as a one-year timed exclusive for the PlayStation 5, set to arrive at the time of the console's launch. However, the game's release window was pushed to Q2 2021 in August 2020, apparently due to the challenges of adjusting to work from home. Fans even thought they had locked down the game's arrival when a New Zealand retailer listed Deathloop's release date as May 20, 2021.

However, in September 2020, Microsoft announced that it would be purchasing ZeniMax, Arkane Studios parent company, leading to questions about whether the game would remain a timed PlayStation exclusive. However, Microsoft has stated that it intends to honor exclusivity deals already made with Sony, citing Deathloop specifically in a Bloomberg interview.

Back 4 Blood

One of the most significant and best-received surprise announcements from The Game Awards 2020 was Turtle Rock Studios' Back 4 Blood, a spiritual successor to the Left 4 Dead franchise. While development on the game seems to be progressing nicely, with glowing previews from sources such as Polygon and PC Gamer, the developers announced on March 25 that the game's release date had been pushed to Oct. 12, 2021.

The developers stated in that tweet that Turtle Rock was striving to make Back 4 Blood "the best game it can possibly be at launch and the team needs more time to do this." The tweet also announced that an open beta would begin sometime in the summer of 2021.

Back 4 Blood is both a return to form and a passion project of sorts for Turtle Rock Studios, which was known as Valve South when the company developed the original Left 4 Dead. The new game promises to revisit features such as the AI director, which adjusts difficulty on the fly as players progress through a level. It will also while introduce new features such as Corruption Cards, which players can use to counter the director.

Riders Republic

When Riders Republic, a multiplayer extreme sports title featuring snowboarding, mountain biking, and wingsuiting, was announced during the Ubisoft Forward livestream in September 2020, the game's release date was set for Feb. 25, 2021. However, that ambitious go-live date proved to be too soon, and the Riders Republic development team released an announcement via Twitter in January stating that the game would be released later in 2021, at an unspecified date.

It wasn't just Riders Republic's release date that was ambitious. The game plans to offer players a social playground from which they can explore seven national parks within the United States, including Mammoth Mountain, Bryce Canyon, and Yosemite. 

Riders Republic creative director Igor Manceau told Red Bull that each of these locations have been designed using actual GPS data, and every area can be experienced using any transportation in the game. This means that players could potentially snowmobile to the top of a mountain, wingsuit their way down the mountain, and then ski back to the lodge.

Hogwarts Legacy

The next major video game adaptation of the popular book and film franchise Harry Potter, Hogwarts Legacy, was an early victim of the many game delays of 2021. An announcement on the game's official Twitter account stated simply that Portkey Games was committed to giving the game the time it needed, and its 2021 release date had been adjusted to an unspecified 2022 arrival.

While the delay was disappointing for fans, things just seemed to keep getting worse for Hogwarts Legacy. First, the author of the original Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, made some controversial comments online that forced Avalanche Games to distance themselves from her through a statement on the game's official FAQ page. Then, gamers were in an uproar after it was revealed that Hogwarts Legacy's lead designer, Troy Leavitt, had a long-running YouTube channel that had reportedly minimized the #MeToo movement and the sexual misconduct allegations against former Pixar CCO John Lasseter.

Leavitt ultimately stepped down from his position, which may allow Avalanche Games to pursue its vision for Hogwarts Legacy with fewer distractions.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Daedalic Entertainment's The Lord of the Rings: Gollum became another early casualty of 2021 delays when the developers released a press release in January, which announced that the game would not arrive until 2022.

The press release declined to give any information as to why the game, initially slated for a 2021 arrival, had been pushed back. Instead, it focused more on Daedalic Entertainment's partnership and distribution agreement with NACON, a French publishing company, which is at least a good sign that the game is still on the way.

Outside of a brief teaser and a smattering of gameplay footage, gamers have received few details on what to expect from The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Early reports on the first game based on the Lord of the Rings character indicate that the game will include stealth elements and will be optimized for the newest generation of consoles, including both the Series X|S and PlayStation 5.

Other high profile games have suffered indefinite delays

The list of games delayed in 2021 goes on. Two of the highest-profile games in development in 2020, Halo: Infinite and Gran Turismo 7, remain delayed. Halo: Infinite is expected in late 2021, although no definitive release date has been set, while Gran Turismo 7 should arrive sometime in 2022, according to a statement provided to GQ.

Other games in popular franchises, including LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Gotham Knights, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, have been pushed back, with no official release dates set. Ubisoft, in particular, has been aggressively delaying release dates for some of its signature series. Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six: Quarantine, and the remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time were all pushed back. 

Even add-ons and expansions for current games have not been immune. Cyberpunk 2077's promised free DLC has been pushed back, as was Destiny 2: The Witch Queen.

It isn't all bad news, however. Outriders finally arrived after its release date was pushed to April 1. Also, while Elite Dangerous: Odyssey's release window was pushed to late spring, it finally began its promised prerelease open alpha.